Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Remember and Honour our Great and Awesome Saviour on this day... hope you all have/had a good one! God Bless!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What did God mean by calling His creation "good"?

Lately I have been pondering about the meaning of "good" when God said that what He had made was "good" in Genesis chapter 1. In the past we have discussed in Bible studies that the definition of good and evil in Hebrew is often thought of in a concept of function and dysfunction (

Lamentations 3:38 talks about how God issues good and evil or in other words "function" and "dysfunction". This view of good and evil gives a new picture. It is not that God is morally "evil" in His actions but in order to bring about full functionality in creation sometimes dysfunction is necessary. At this point in time I think about God flooding the earth in Noah's day - it was an act of dysfunction. It was not ultimately God's intended end or ultimate outcome to cause death, but it was necessary to do in order to reach His intended and ultimate outcome for His creation (justice and salvation).

Coming back to the title of this post, I have been wrestling with God's definition of "good". How can something that is "good" become evil? If it is good or functional, then where is there room for it becoming bad or dysfunctional? If something is good would it not be completely resilient to evil? These questions came from an understanding that when God made everything good, it meant that it was perfect in a present complete sense.

But these questions have brought me to a new understanding of what is "good" in His sight. I believe that "good" to God is like a painting that He has begun and delights in the intended outcome or conclusion. When God created the world I don't think that He was surprised that mankind fell. I don't think that Christ was plan B. He was before the foundation of the world and was intended for sacrifice and salvation from the foundation of the world (John 1, Revelation 13:8, 1 Peter 1:18-20). The gift of Christ and therefore the fall of man is plan A.

So if Christ was God's intended outcome, in order to reconcile man to Himself, then Adam and Eve in their "perfect" state were not perfect at all in God's eyes in a complete finished sense. It is interesting to note that Paul said that Adam was of the dust and Christ is of heaven; first comes the natural and then the spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:45-49). Adam was not complete without Christ, even before Adam "fell".

So why did God intend or allow dysfunction (the fall) in His overall "good" functional picture? I wonder whether in order for mankind to experience the fullness of love, grace and sacrifice, then a negative or dysfunction is necessary. In order to know the difference between functional (God's best intended complete outcome) and dysfunctional then we as mankind need to experience both. Thus the tree of the knowledge of "good" and "evil" is necessary in order to appreciate what is truly functional. Adam was of the dust, and before the fall he was not yet aware of dysfunction, nor was he aware of the aspects of complete function. This complete function was the act and demonstration of love and sacrifice modelled by Christ. It is important to note that currently, mankind as a whole are able to experience aspects of function, such as love etc, alongside dysfunction. But mankind have not yet experienced God's full intended functional end-outcome, where dysfunction does not exist.

What is this end-outcome? To become like Christ Himself, valuing what He values. To die in order to have life more abundantly, and to experience dysfunction in order to become and appreciate complete functionality.

I will leave you with this verse from Romans 8:18 "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory, which shall be revealed in us" - KJV (Some versions say "to" instead of "in", but I believe it means "in" or both).

Isn't it cool that the glory will be revealed "in" US?! God is moulding and developing us into His masterpiece and suffering is a part of it! (Romans 5:3-4)

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Post number 2 (following THE SOUL):

Anything we know about God’s nature is completely dependent on Him revealing His nature to us. There are various means of such revelation, ranging in clarity from intelligible recorded language (Scripture) to the expression of the resulting character in reality (i.e. creation, incarnation, sin and suffering, end-times, etc). 
Regardless of the clarity of revelation, there is some degree of interpretation by us, the recipients. We sense the language (with varying degrees of accuracy) and perceive it’s meaning (with even less accuracy) in line with our own current character.
I realise my own fallibility in receiving revelation, and welcome anyone to persuade me toward a truer and fuller perception of God’s nature! This is very important, because God’s nature is the basis for his character, and everything else!

Remember I’m mainly interested in peer review - both of philosophical validity and clarity, and Scriptural support.

Most fundamentally, God is a conscious (soulish), relational (Trinitarian) spirit. 
His soulishness means He has a character, Free Agency (a hedonistic drive for best expression), and desires.
His relational nature is unique - for most other beings, this is merely one way of expressing a particular kind of character (which is itself malleable). God's intrinsic and unchanging relational nature becomes especially relevant to his creation of and interaction with humanity.

Another aspect of God’s nature, is that He is the ‘I AM’ - the ONLY self-sufficient, self-existent thing in existence. As such, God is not dependent on ANY other being for existence (and is thus eternal), but everything else is dependent on Him for existence. 
This does NOT mean he does not allow other beings to have God-like properties - after all, He has given angels and humans conscious spirits (and thus souls) just like Him. But the existence of anything depends on God wanting it to exist. 
The necessity of this clarification is obvious when considering the pre-existence of human spirits. If God is eternal and our spirits depend on his desire for their existence, it is possible that this desire has been present for eternity with God Himself. Thus it is possible that human spirits are eternal - but ONLY GOD is self-sufficient, self-existent.

Unlimited Expressiveness
God is free to fully define his own context, in which His free agency operates. 
This means his context is designed to match his strongest desires - to allow maximal expression of His character, and thus maximal pleasure. 
It also means He has full and true perception of all things - his desires are spot-on, and his will knows exactly what the best expression of his character is.

Being always able to express his character fully, God is never under any pressure to mould His character.
This means that His character is the same, for all eternity.
It also means that He will inevitably attain maximum possible ultimate pleasure in the context He created.
This character is extremely broad and complex - given that it is not limited by anything except God’s nature (which is minimal).

God’s Free Agency mean that expressiveness is also part of His nature. Combined with a broad, complex character and ultimate expression, this makes powerful creativity part of God’s nature. EVERYTHING that exists is part of the perfect ultimate expression of God’s character. The observable and unobservable aspects of the fleshly and spiritual universes, along with various created beings and their natures, all serve this end. 
The complexity of creation itself is part of the perfect expression of God’s character, since God’s character is complex. But it also means that each and every minute event within reality has broad ripple impacts (Butterfly Effect). It is possible that God deliberately chose a reality in which his methods are somewhat constrained by these effects, because this best reflects His character.

The character of God is referred to as His holiness - consequently, any created being’s character is holy to the degree that it aligns with God’s. Since God’s character is constant, holiness is a constant knowable standard of character. 
Holy characters have potential to find the greatest possible ultimate expression and pleasure of any characters in all of reality, since it is designed to allow the greatest ultimate expression of God’s character, which is holy.
Since holiness is the best way to pursue and attain ultimate pleasure, anything which encourages holiness is ‘good’ in multiple senses - maximising pleasure, maximising utility, fulfilling purpose, and being holy. 

Developing holiness is ‘sanctification’. To sanctify, characters must perceive a reality in which holiness finds best expression. They must perceive a reality created by and for the expression of God’s character. This is why ANY expression of God’s character is, by definition, ‘good’ for all created beings.
The Grace of God means that His character is always ‘good’ when it is expressed, and it is always perfectly expressed. It is an impersonal property of existence, which describes how God's expression happens to always be ultimately 'good' for us.

Human holiness also wills for 'good' to be expressed, resulting in 'good works'. These please God because of what they indicate about the character, regardless of his decision to bring them success or not (based on perfect holiness and knowledge).
Since God’s character it is so broad and complex, there are multiple varied ways that different (more limited) being’s can be holy - this is God’s purpose to display his character. Thus there are multiple ways to be sanctified. Also the way in which holiness works itself out in the will is even more varied, depending on context - but it will always be an expression of God’s character.
Human holiness is also different from God's holiness, in that our natures are NOT un-limited in our expression. EVEN IF we were perfectly aligned with God’s character, the expression of this character will be limited by our natures. 
True human ‘holiness’ (from God’s perspective, and what will bring us the most pleasure) is thus angled heavily toward finding pleasure in experiencing God’s OWN expression of this character, more than our personal expression of this character.
Thus human holiness includes a set of attitudes towards God’s own character - including confession (understanding, belief/perception, acceptance, and ownership), love (and desire), and trust (and hope). These can obviously exist apart from each other, but are collectively known as ‘saving faith’.

Relationship to Created Beings
Love is defined as pleasure in the pleasure of another being, with whom we have a relationship. 
There are three ways this can happen - mutual experience (both simultaneously enjoy each other, but on a superficial level as if they were just part of a pleasurable context, rather than primarily in the pleasure of the other), mutual characters (the characters are alike, so that when one expresses itself, it is as if the other had also), or the development of a character whose expression involves giving pleasure to the other (and can thus be sacrificial to this end). These are known (in Greek) as eros (sexual passion), philios (brotherly affection), and agape (sacrificial love) respectively.
Sacrificial agape love is based on God's grace (His intrinsic 'goodness', both defining and encouraging maximal possible pleasure in holy characters). But more than that, it includes a relational desire for His created beings (themselves a product of His character expression) to find delight along with Him - i.e, to delight in His character. While grace is impersonal, love is personal, and not only describes God's expression but influences it.
For humans, agape love for God will also aim to maximise His delight in a reciprocal manner - but it is different to God's love, because we bring Him pleasure by being holy and enjoying His own character expression!

God is able to completely mould all created characters as He sees fit. This is because character moulding is dependent on perceptions of good/evil - they sanctify and/or harden based on the balance of goodness/evil that they perceive. 
God is in complete control of the actual presence of evil vs goodness throughout life (thus manipulating character moulding over time), and is also able to provide powerful instantaneous spiritual perception via the Holy Spirit (discussed later) in any degree He sees fit.
God works all things together to bring about what he has predestined. Since soul states cannot be the basis of election (election is unmerited as discussed later, but soul states are clearly ascribed merit by God), this leaves God bound to mould characters as required to bring about what He has predestined.
The problem of God designing sinful characters is addressed later when I discuss the necessity of sin. 

  1. God is a conscious (soulish) and trinitarian (relational) spirit.
  2. He is the ‘I AM’ - the ONLY self-existent, self-sufficient being - the creator and sustainer of everything else in all of reality.
  3. Being able to define his own context, God is unlimited in expressiveness, is all-knowing, and is unchanging.
  4. The creation as a whole IS the complex expression of God’s character, and that (according to God's Free Agency) must be its ultimate purpose.
  5. Sanctification is the process of becoming holy - aligned with God’s character.
  6. Any sanctifying pressures are ‘good’ because holy characters will find ultimate best expression in a universe designed for the expression of God’s character.
  7. Human holiness includes faith, which means it focused on God’s expression of his own holiness.
  8. God is loving because He wants other beings to align with his character AND find maximal ultimate pleasure in it.
  9. God is able to completely manipulate the moulding of all created characters, because He is in control of their prior character development, their current context, and their spiritual perception (via the Holy Spirit).
The Series:

  1. The Soul
  2. God's Nature (this post)
  3. God's Nature - Obscured
  4. Human Nature
  5. More to come...

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Hi all :)

Dan and I (and a few other friends) have been having some long discussions recently, trying to formulate some concrete beliefs about the fundamental nature of, well, everything. Big task, right? 
We realised that much of what we think is based on pure assumption. And because we have never seriously tried wrestling with competing (but potentially just as valid) theories, we default to the position of our upbringing. Maybe this is partly because its scary to our subconscious - challenging foundational beliefs has the potential to challenge our whole theological system at once.
Ultimately we want to have philosophically sound, realistic, and (most importantly) Scripturally faithful theological systems - which require philosophically sound, realistic, and Scripturally faithful beliefs about the fundamental nature of things.

I’m starting a series of blog posts about the understanding I am reaching through these discussions. The main purpose of these posts is for peer review - please let me know your thoughts!

Currently my focus has been on getting the philosophy right - this is because I believe all my arguments are Scripturally supported, but am not so certain about the philosophical validity. However, since the next step is to tailor my presentation of scriptural support, I would appreciate any scriptural challenges to my arguments.

Before we start discussing the nature of God (which is the basis for everything else!), I would like to define some common terms.

The Soul
Every being is formed from a set of intimately connected entities - e.g. body, mind, spirit, soul. These entities can be of two types - ontological (real ‘things’ as we traditionally think of them) and functional.
Functional entities are persistent phenomena whose essence includes a particular functional state. For example, your thoughts are not ‘things’, but are never-the-less specific entities. Their essence includes their functional state - i.e. being ‘thought of’ by you. If the function changes, they cease to exist as entities.
Functional entities can depend on functions which spring from the interplay between multiple ontological sources.

The ‘Soul’ described in the Bible (in both the Greek and Hebrew language) refers to conscious experience. God & Angels, Humans, and some ‘soulish’ animals all have a soul.
Conscious experience is a function, making the soul a ‘functional entity’ - hence it is not a ‘thing’ the same way that body and spirit are ‘things’. 
Instead it is the sum total of conscious experience - which results from the interplay between ontological entities such as body and/or spirit, and context

The experiences that make up the soul range from focusses consciousness to sub-conscious (and beyond). If consciousness fully ceases to exist, the soul also ceases to exist.
Experiences can be predictable (if you know enough about the soul and context in question), or potentially absolutely unpredictable and random. Many people deny the existence of such random elements to the soul (for philosophical, Scriptural, and secular evidence reasons).
Predictable experiences range from pure isolated sensation (extremely malleable, instantaneously, to external context) to more self-sustaining experiences.  

Pleasure is defined as ‘that which the soul is driven to continue experiencing’. By definition, then, all souls are fundamentally hedonistic.
The definition of pleasure may vary from soul to soul and may change over time.
ALL of the soul’s experiences are variably ‘pleasurable’, and its current state can be summed up in the total experience of (or lack of) pleasure. 

The Character
Hedonism drives the soul to do three things. Firstly, the soul is driven to preserve its current condition, resulting in self-sustaining elements which are resistant to moulding. 
Self-sustaining experiences are important to hedonism, because hedonism relies on accurate predictions about reality, based on limited information. Previous experiences, successes, and failures all help - either by being called directly to awareness to create a more complete perception of reality, or by having a persistent subconscious influence on the soul.
Self-sustaining experiences include reality perceptions (ranging from simple beliefs to biases in sensory interpretation), imaginations (including future/alternative realities and desires), the will, and emotions. The character’s reality perception also includes beliefs about its own capabilities in pursuing pleasure, leading to conscious and subconscious habits of expression.
Collectively these self-sustaining predictable experiences are known as the ‘character’ (also known in Scripture as the ‘heart’). They all exhibit a degree of resistance to change.

In addition to resisting change, hedonism drives the character to mould appropriately by experience.
Character moulding is important for the same reason as resistance - additional information is valid and useful in how to pursue pleasure, just as previous information was.
Moulding can range from changed habits of expression, changes beliefs or perceptual biases, to changed definitions of pleasure. 

Thus the character is non-random and predictable (it is based on hedonism and experiences), and is semi-malleable (persistent but malleable).

Free Agency
Finally, Hedonism drives the soul to free agency - the intrinsic drive of the soul to express its character. 
Expression is important to hedonism because pleasure perception happens through interaction with the context - ranging from simple sensation, to context manipulation, to building/seeking entirely new contexts.
Such behaviour is an expression of the soul’s current character - its ideas of pleasure, its ideas of how best to attain it. The better a character can express itself, the more pleasure is being attained.
Free agency thus produces the ‘will’, which is not ‘free’, but rather bound to free agency. And Free Agency is bound to the character, which is predictable, and resistant to moulding (to varying degrees).

There are multiple reasons Free Agency fails to produce maximal ultimate pleasure. 
The character’s idea of pleasure may be wrong or incomplete. And its ideas of how to best attain it in the current context - how to best express itself - may be wrong. 
Finally, the character’s perception may be wrong/incomplete - perception (including pleasure perception) is a mix of sensory input AND the character’s input (processing the senses, and providing its own beliefs about reality - both of which can combat pleasure). 

A Being’s Nature and Character Limits
A being’s nature is ALL aspects to it that are unchangeable. This includes whether the being has a body or spirit, and whether it is conscious (i.e. has a soul).
A being’s nature may directly fix or constrain the limits of various sensations, and which are more powerful in various ways (including potential to bring pleasure). It may also provide initial perceptual and expressive habits in the character, and provide innate resistance properties to malleability. 
These two things will lead to limits on how a character can or will mould.

A character with ONLY nature aspects is (by definition) not malleable. It is entirely defined by the expressions it has designed to perform. Free Agency will always seek pleasure this way regardless of its success.
On the other hand, any self-defining character (i.e. with NO nature aspects) defines its own hedonism. It can form itself so that it finds pleasure in whatever interactions are most abundant in the given context - resulting in maximal possible pleasure. Obviously this is dependent on knowing which interactions are most abundant, which comes by experience.
Characters with both natures AND malleable aspects to their characters will mould with experience. But there are additional constraints on the most abundant interactions possible (and which of this can be pleasurable), provided by their nature.

Imagination and Desire
The soul’s experience is not limited to present reality (perception), but also includes imagination about future realities (to varying degrees). Some beings can imagine multiple alternative realities (for the present or the future). 
Beings which can imagine future and/or alternative realities will have varying degrees of desire attached to each. The strength of desire is based on how well the character thinks it could be expressed (and thus gain pleasure) in the imagined reality. 

Free Agency can utilise this capability to aim for ultimate maximal pleasure at some point in the future - even if this means foregoing maximal pleasure in the present
Free Agency will always act in the way maximises character expression, and the character will mould itself toward expressions that it thinks have the best chance at maximal ultimate pleasure. Thus the will may frequently aim at less-desirable but more-realistic future realities.
The better a being can imagine future realities, the more accurate and long-ranged such predictions will be, and so the more successful and future-oriented Free Agency will be.

Emotions are an expression of dissonance between reality perceptions, and desires for alternative realities. 

This is where misunderstanding about happiness can occur - emotional happiness occurs when reality perceptions exceed our desires. But if desires do not match what would actually bring maximal expression & pleasure, emotional happiness can fall woefully short of maximal possible pleasure.


  1. The soul is not a thing like spirit and body. It is the experience of consciousness.
  2. The character is all those aspects of the soul which are predictable and self-sustaining. It includes perceptions, imaginations, the will, and emotions.
  3. The soul is hedonistic, which drives it to be semi-malleable, and to have Free agency.
  4. Free Agency is drive for the soul to express itself. Free Agency drives the will to express the character as much as it can, in an attempt to attain maximal ultimate pleasure.
  5. A being's nature may place constraints on how the character can mould.
  6. A being can have multiple desires, and the will does not necessarily aim for the most desirable reality if it seems unlikely. Emotions are expressions of dissonance between reality and those desires. As such happiness may not line up with pleasure perception.
The Series:
  1. The Soul (this post)
  2. God's Nature
  3. God's Nature - Obscured
  4. Human Nature
  5. More to come...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Equality of roles in society?

My cousin is studying a couple of theology papers at uni this year and has posted up a couple of write ups on FB. They seem like really interesting topics, rather controversial.

I like the sound of studying contextual theology, but I am not so sure about the angle of the feminist theology. Sure, it is great to study the real meaning behind texts, but I find that there is too much of an appeal for "equality" today. Don't get me wrong, I believe in equality. But the equality I believe in is one of worth and status under God, not someone's role.
Just because someone has a different role under God to another person, does not mean that that role is lesser or greater in value, but is simply different in function. Just because John Key is prime minister of New Zealand does not mean that he is greater and of more value than I under God, but he simply holds a different role. He probably is able to do that role better than I, but that does not make him unequal to me. I don't get up in arms and claim "God has created me unequal, I am different from John Key, how dear he?!"

God has created us all to have a role and function in life, it is a matter of finding that best function that He has designed us for.

Sunday, October 20, 2013 pride

Listening to a song by the Christian metal band Stryper inspired this thought. Here are the words to the song first of all:

Saturday night's a lie, I follow every cue
Sunday is sanctified, I smile and take the pew
Monday it's back to school - Am I learning, not at all
Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I just crawl

Seeds that were growing have been dried up by my flesh
I walk the walk and talk the talk but where's the rest
I could have everything even what's behind the stars
But I built my prison without windows, without bars

Gotta fight, gotta stop living a lie
Gotta fall, gotta lay down and die
Gotta stand and run to the other side
Gotta live or it's Murder By Pride

Watching people, including the one in the mirror, and it's easy to see that we live for ourselves too much. It seems like all we care about at times is how we feel or what makes us feel better about our life, our lifestyles, our thoughts, and our actions. As the song says our seeds (our ways of life) have been dried up by the flesh. The flesh causes us to be blind. We start to focus on our own wants and desires of the flesh and this in turn causes us to lose focus on living right. We build our own prisons. We live secret lives. We live lies.

When we live for ourselves we do these things:
  • We challenge God's word and authority. This causes us to think less of moral standards or even lose a standard to live by. When standards of God are lost then humanity suffers chaos. A world without Godly standards is called 'hell".
  • We exalt ourselves over the wisdom of God. Humanity that can't even control their own finances, marriages, and other issues in life think they can actually get away with making decisions without God or at least the wisdom He has passed on in the Scriptures? What makes us think we are right?
  • We feel we are the most important person in existence. People do not listen to wisdom. They feel just because they think it then it must be right. Everyone has a closed mind or turn a blind eye to what they are doing because if they are proven wrong then they have to change.
All of these can be summed up into one word, pride. One being did that a long time ago and a special place has been created for him. Pride came before his fall and pride will come before our fall.
Sometimes we have to put our own desires away. When we live secret lives we not only lie to the world but we lie to ourselves. Yet, we keep going on living that way. We have to stop living a lie. Just because things feel okay to do or we no longer feel bad about some of our actions does not meant that we are living right. We all need certain standards to live by. Just because God's morals are not what we feel are for everybody does not mean His moral standards are wrong. We may think it's okay to release our anxieties with alcohol, but it's not. We may think it's okay to indulge ourselves with "feel good" activities because it has been accepted by the world, but it's not. We may think our wrongful sexual desires are okay to pursue because it makes us feel good and wanted, but it's not. We may think it's okay to get revenge or to react in a vengeful way because we feel people deserve it, but it's not. Just because certain things make us happy and/or we do not understand why God says certain things are wrong does not mean we do not have to abide by His standards. Sometimes we have to lay down our flesh and die to this world. If we keep on living for the flesh then we let our pride murder us.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Touch of the Master

Inspired by Joseph Prince Ministries:

In the Old Testament (Torah) the Jewish nation was bound by certain laws to become holy or clean before the Lord Adonai. If you sinned or had afflictions you had to do certain acts. You had sacrifices. You had ceremonial cleansings. You had to be isolated for certain amount of times. You had to leave your community until the affliction was gone or you were. Such as lepers had a skin condition that by the law made them unclean. Lepers were not allowed to walk in the streets, they had to stay in the valley of the lepers.  There was a woman who had a hemorrhage for 12 years and because of this she was considered unclean. When she touched Jesus' clothing as He walked by she then tried to hide for fear of the people because of what she had done.   By the law, those who were considered unclean were not allowed to touch those who were considered clean. If they did then the unclean passed onto the clean thereby making them unclean as well. People ran from them. People ignored them. People were frightened to be around them; causing those with afflictions to feel like outcasts, loners, and unworthy. Leviticus 21:7, says:
  • When anyone touches anything unclean, whether human uncleanness, or an unclean animal, or any unclean detestable thing, and eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings which belong to the Lord, that person shall be cut off from his people.
But Jesus through the new covenant of grace changed all of that. When Jesus saw these people He did not shy away from them like the regular population. Unlike others who backed away, Jesus went to them and even more He touched them. Matthew 8:2-3:
  • And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
By the law the leper and the woman would have been considered unclean but because of who He was the tables were turned. Instead of the unclean causing the clean to be unclean this time the clean made the unclean...clean!
Those who are touched by the Master are cleansed. It doesn't matter what our past holds. It doesn't matter how unclean we have been, when we are touched by the Master our sins are washed away, our past stays exactly where it is, in the past. Our unworthiness is now made worthy. This is why Paul says Your grace is sufficient. Paul had a horrible history with God's new family members and yet Paul new he was forgiven because He was touched by Jesus.
Whether Jesus seeks us out or we seek Him, we can have this cleansing.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, the day when our sins are forgiven. On this day the high priest of the nation of Israel would go behind the veil in the Holy Place and perform a ceremony in the Holy of Holies. Leviticus 23:26-32.
  • 26 The Lord said to Moses,
  • 27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Yom Kippur. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to ADONAI.
  • 28 Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God.
  • 29 Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people.
  • 30 I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day.
  • 31 You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
  • 32 It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”
It was performed on the 10th day of the 7th month each year. This day was the most holiest day and the most important feast during the Feast of Weeks. There were four main elements to this feast.
  1. The holy ones (God's people) were called together. God's people were called to the altar to focus upon Him. God's presence was with them.
  2. Denying yourselves means that the people were suppose to humble themselves. It is supposed to be a day of fasting and repentance.
  3. It was a day of offering.
  4. It was absolutely a day of rest. No one was to work, punishment up to the penalty of death.
The high priest would first bathe and wash his whole body and not just the regular ceremonial washing of hands and feet. This was to show a desire to be completely purified before ADONAI. He was to wear a special garment of linen instead of his usual robe of color. He would take a male bull and sacrifice it for himself. He would place the blood on the Mercy Seat (lid of the Ark) and on the ground beside the Ark. He then would take a male goat and sacrifice it for the people. Some of the blood would be sprinkled onto the Ark. Then the high priest would take another goat and lay his hands on the head. He would confess the sins of Israel, symbolizing the transference of sin onto the goat, and then let it go. Our sin would escape with the goat, hence the term escape goat, or scapegoat. The remains of the bull and goat were taken outside the city to be burned/sacrificed.
What does it mean for us? Hebrews 9-10 is the answer. This day points to Christ in all ways. Jesus is our high priest, our sacrifice, our escape goat, our atonement. Jesus was pure. He went to the cross not wearing any special garment. He was stripped of his clothes until all that remained was his undergarments. The soldiers mocked him and placed a purple robe on Him. Nothing spectacular, one color, yet one of a King! Jesus took His own blood, for no one could do this without His will, and it was spilled on the new Ark (Cross) and on the ground, since He was lifted high into the air His blood fell to the ground. The scapegoat was to show that the sins of Israel were not remembered. Jesus' death is all about how our sins are forgiven. Our sin was transferred from us to Him. But there is a difference here. The goat was done once each year; it was temporary. Jesus did this once and for all (Hebrews 7:27). His sacrifice is permanent. We are bound by law, but free in grace. And like the remains of the bull and goat that was led outside the city to finish the sacrifice, so was Jesus (Hebrews 13:11-12), where He said, "It is finished".
It is not a day we need to sacrifice anymore since we are now in grace and not held to the law. But nevertheless it is a day when we need to draw closer to God and remember what His son Jesus did for us, once and for all. The law brings death and grace brings life.

But, we need to take time to understand this day. The day where all of our sins would be forgiven for the year. The priests would sacrifice a perfect lamb for each one of us. The lamb my friends is temporary, natural, finite, a vapor in this life. Today we have a high priest who is also the perfect lamb. But this lamb my brothers and sisters (more than my friends this time) is PERMANENT! SUPERNATURAL! INFINITE! IS LIFE! He has redeemed us. He has reconciled us to Him. Our sins under grace are never remembered for the scapegoat has gone into Heaven and has taken our sins with Him.
Remember to thank God the Father today for His sacrifice of His perfect Son and for sending His Spirit to us.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Evangelical Universalism

Hi everyone.

Lately, I have been looking into Universalism (NOT Unitarian Universalism) after trying to pull together a logical explanation of man's "freewill" and God's "freewill". Previously I have been an Arminianist who was looking into Calvinism.
I have nearly come to the conclusion that man and God do not have free will at all. It is more like we have free agency (A freedom to act out our character). I am thinking this way because, if God chooses from before the foundations of the world those whom would be saved and at the same time be choosing those who accept Him, then there must be a predictable nature about our characters.
Our characters must have a system or predictable character by which God can read us. Just like God has a character and does not change. We cannot decide who we are. I think our perceptions of who we and who God is can change but not who we really, truly are. If we did have a "free" choice, then our choices would be random, because they would not be following a system or character. Randomness is not observable or coherent.
So, God made us, and so we will be what God made us to be.
Then it leads to, why would God make someone specifically for eternity in hell?

As I said, I have been looking into Universalism for obvious reasons. I originally thought they were a bunch of wackos who didn't take the Bible seriously, and to my surprise I found out that they actually do and that they actually have some strong arguments to illustrate their case.

These guys are quite an interesting read
and also this non-exhaustive list of scriptural support was interesting too

Keen to hear people's thoughts.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

God of the Present

Exploring the meanings of the names of God that we see from the Bible is a neat study. Some of those names mentioned in the Bible are:
  • El Shaddai- God Almighty
  • El Elyon- God Most High
  • El Roi- God that sees
  • El Olam- The Eternal God
  • YHWH Jireh- God provides
  • YHWH Rophi- God that heals
  • YHWH Nissi- God is our banner
  • YHWH Shalom- God of peace
But as I was studying there was something that kept coming to mind; something was missing about these names. It wasn't in the differences between Latin (Jehovah) and Hebrew (YHWH) versions. It wasn't in the name actually at all but it is in the verb that stands with the name. These verbs are present tense. They are not past or future, but present. That means that God is not the God of the past. We can thank Him for what He has done of course but He is not the God of the past. He is not the God of the future. This is not to say that He has nothing to do with the future or that we don't have to care about our future eternal life. He is the God of the present. We live in the present. He cares about us now.
The best name for God is the one He gave Moses. I AM. Notice it is not "I was" or "I will be", but I AM. Sure, this also means He transcends all time and that time is meaningless to Him. But, with God there are always two meanings, one spiritual and one physical. This also means He is here with us now. So, when we say His name as Jehovah Jireh, we are not saying God will provide. We are saying God is providing! God will not heal, God is healing! God will not give us peace, God is peace! When Isaiah said that by His stripes we are healed it is not saying that we will be healed. It says we are! God provides our daily bread. God sets us at peace every morning because His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). If we believe then we receive.
Too many times we pray God if you will, when we should be saying thank you God for what you are doing. This is why Jesus told us to pray as though you have already received it (Mark 11:24). He is doing it now. This may show why sometimes things happen at once and others take time. We are in the process of receiving these promises that God will not forsake us. We live day by day. Our faith grows day by day. Our faith struggles if we have to wait for the results. The strongest of faith knows it is already done. But sometimes our faith goes through hard times so we can see the glory of God when time reveals. This is hard to do since we live in a physical world and our senses deceive us. We rely to many times on what we see, but we are not suppose to walk by sight but by faith. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
Jesus' name is also Y'shua Ha Mashiach which means Jesus the Messiah, the Savior. When does He save? Now! Forever. With each day that comes, God provides, heals, sees, saves, and waves His banner of love over us (Exodus 17:15). We are forever His. The Great I AM is here, now, waiting for us to accept His promises and then watch our faith work.

For more reading click here:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Daily Dosage

When your stomach aches the thing most people reach for faster than any other thing is Pepto- Bismol. The instructions on the bottle say take 2 tablespoons every 1/2 to 1 hour as needed. When a headache comes around people start to reach for the Advil. The instructions say take 1 tablet every 4 to 6 hours. When we suffer from allergies we take decongestants and antihistamines. Those instructions are basically the same; take a tablet every so often. When we are hungry we know we need to feed ourselves 3 times daily. The instructions here is try and complete the food pyramid to get a full and balanced diet. These are the things that when we feel bad, under the weather, not so right, or unbalanced we take to make us feel better in our lives so we can function properly. We know taking these things will help or at least give us some security that we have taken steps to make us feel better and that in and of itself gives us hope that we will be up and around like our old selves as much as possible. If this is the case, then why do we ignore the calling of our souls when they hurt? Our bodies scream to us to tell us we are not feeling well and we listen to it. Yet, when our souls cry out that we are hurting we ignore it. We need to feed our souls daily.

Jesus said He is the bread of life (John 6). He said those who believe in Him shall not thirst. Yet, so many people are thirsting and hungry on the inside. They have wholes intheir life that can not be filled by material matters or physical desires. Jesus told us to pray about giving us our daily bread. We are supposed to get a little Jesus every day! We wander this earth hurting and feeling alone. Our souls cry out and desire relationships. We ache and pain in our souls because we are not using the daily dosage prescribed by the Word of God; the instructions tell us to take it daily.

In Exodus 16 we see how God provided His people with a daily dosage of manna. Each and every day He faithfully allowed manna to fall from heaven and His people were filled. They were to collect all they could and let not one drop go to waste. Today we have spiritual manna. We have the Word of God. We have Jesus Christ. Manna is all around but we don't take our fill. We pick up pieces when we feel we need it. We let manna go to waste. We shall never go hungry if we take the daily bread.

If the wisdom of man is telling us to take certain substances to make our bodies feel better imagine how much more powerful the wisdom of God as He tells us to take Jesus, our daily bread, to make our souls feel better. Reading the Word, daily prayer, praise in the morning, worship at night. Take the manna, the bread of life daily and your soul will feel better.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Full Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-17
•10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
•11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
•12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
•13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
•14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
•15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
•16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
•17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
This thought has been used by many over the years but something I heard the other day made me realize something very special about this passage. Each piece not only has a specific job to do; that is common sense. None of these can stand alone. This is why Paul writes we need to put on the full armor of God. This is not to say that God has a weakness. It is to say man has a weakness. Any “armor” we put on that is of flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). Any opening we give to the enemy is vulnerable. God wants us to completely trust in Him. Without trust in God our faith is weak. Without using all of the armor we show lack of trust or even worse, self pride. But what does each piece mean?
Helmet of Salvation. Why do we wear a helmet? To protect our head of course. Our eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Four out of our five senses are located in the head. It gives us direction and collects our bearings. They think, guide, and reason. So we have to protect these things if we want to protect our lives against the evils of this world. But there is a deeper meaning to this. Salvation! A helmet covers us. God’s salvation covers us. Our sins are covered. It starts at the top. It is the beginning. We all wash from head to toe. When our heads are covered, the rest follows. Since our sins are covered, the rest of salvation and the fight can begin.
Shield of Faith. Believing in our cause. When things of this world try and break us and tear us apart we have something that can block the attack. Our faith can get us through the worst of times. Paul tells us that when all things have passed away faith, hope, and love will remain. It is eternal. It is always here for us to use. But there is the catch. We have to use it! And the larger the shield, the better. Many of us have small amounts of faith. We can take small attacks in our lives but the more battered the less we feel safe with that shield. The larger the shield, the more we can defend with. The stronger the material, the more battering it can take. We need to build our faith each day so that nothing can break it or batter it. And we get a stronger faith by reading the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
Sword of the Spirit. Paul specifically tells us this is the word of God, scripture. It is our greatest weapon. With the Word in our hands we can stand against the enemy. Notice one major thing here; Paul writes about many defenses we have but we have one offense---SCRIPTURE! Everywhere in the Bible when the word “scripture” itself is used it means something that has been written down by God, etched in stone. What God has said nothing can overrule it. God’s word is final. When satan tries to tempt you and you want to fight back then quote scripture.
Shoes of Readiness. Sometimes we have to be mobile. Sometimes the path we have to take is rocky and hurts. Paul tells us to put on shoes that can protect our feet from the path we have to take. Breastplate of Righteousness. Your most vital organ is your heart. Many times we are told we have to protect our heart. God judges us by our hearts. If we love, forgive, show compassion, and trust then we have righteousness. This righteousness protects our hearts.
But after all of this the most important thought is still to come. Think of a soldier (from Paul’s time). He can put on a helmet but nothing else is protected. He can carry a sword but has to defend twice as hard. He can put on shoes and run if he needs to. He can carry a shield and wear a breastplate for better protection. But there is one thing that allows the armor to be fully connected. It connects offense with defense. The Belt of Truth! It attaches the upper and lower extremities. It keeps you from falling over your cloak. IT CARRIES YOUR SWORD! Without truth, nothing matters! If you do not have the truth, then what are you defending? Why would you need an offense? The truth of God is what the cause of Christ is all about. Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life. Because Jesus died (truth) and because He was the Son of God (truth) and because He rose again (truth) we have life. He showed the way by living the truth. We need to live the truth. We need to wear the full armor of God. And above all remember our struggle is not against flesh but against the spiritual forces that hate you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Quid est Ecclesia?

What is the Church?
Old Testament terminology equates it to the Temple. The first temple was the Tabernacle or the Tent of Meeting. Everywhere the Jewish nation went they would set up a place to where the priests and Moses could go to God and talk to Him, sacrifice, pray, and worship God. When the physical Temple was built by Solomon all of the symbols and items from the Tabernacle were placed inside, most importantly the Ark placed behind the Veil. The Temple was divided into parts. Depending on who or what you are is where you could go inside the Temple. But only those close enough to God were allowed to go behind the Veil, the curtain that symbolicaaly separates man from God, which Jesus's death caused to be torn in two. For more information on the temple see The point here being that no matter where God's people are there is God as well, permanently.
New Testament terminology equates it to us. This new temple is what we are. The Church are not individuals though. The Church is a body. Some are hands. Some are feet. Some are speakers. Some are seers. But these both have something in common and its the same connection the Old Testament Temple had; God is always there. And if God is always there how can you let worldly ideas and actions into the Church and/or Temple?

Keep in mind, the church is not the Church. Small "c" means thet building. Capital "C" means Christ's body.
The Church is suppose to be:
  1. Spirit-led, not man-led
  2. Glorifying God, not humanistic
  3. Use of gifts to help serve people and God, not show casing human ability
  4. Holy, not worldly
  5. An organism, not an organization
  6. Loving, compassionate, hospitable
  7. Witnesses!
But what has the Church become?
  1. Leaders with egos that can not see past their own accomplishments to see the hurt in some.
  2. Worried about growth in numbers instead of growth in spirit.
  3. Entertainment focused and "jamming" instead of true worship (putting God first).
  4. Lost in culture and becoming immune to the world's sickness.
  5. Business and less personal, more worried about reputation than character
  6. Divided, hypocritical, worried about reputation instead of character
  7. Bad examples because the world sees no difference between living a Christian life and a non-Christian life.
The Church is supposed to be separate from the world for we are not part of this world. Yes, we have to live in it and deal with it but nowhere in the Bible does it say we are to become part of it. The book Animal Farm, although not about Christianity, ends exactly the way what the Church has become.
  • "Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to, and from pig to man again but already it was impossible to say which was which."
The pigs who were supposed to be different and make a change ended up taking on what the humans were doing and in the end became just as bad as humans. Now, we are all sinners, so do not take away from this Thought that Christians are "better". That is far from the truth. What it is saying is we are supposed to act better. We are supposed to change the world. But the Church has become so liberal and weak, has watered down the message of Christ so much, has lost the true meaning of worship so much, that the culture ended up changing it. We have allowed the culture to change sermons, our service to people, our charity, our education, and the worst is we allowed it to change our worship. A non-Christian would say that is a good thing because it would make the Church easier to deal with. But due to this changing the Church has become insincere and less relevant to this world. Ask Europe.
Yet, the big problem is those who are supposed to be temples do not live holy and don't see the problem. They want to justify their own beliefs and actions. Church leaders get egos and prideful and blinded. They look for validation from friends and family. The people find excuses to not live outside the culture. The Church is dying because it is not being the Church. The Church is supposed to be a witness to the world. The Temple (you) is with God always. So, how can we as the Church as a whole or as an individual Temple allow the culture inside?

And the last thing, the Church is not INSIDE a building. It goes OUT to the world. Too many people think the church building is the place to get saved. No, technically the church building is for the Church. You get saved in your heart, not a building. But still the church building is there for a reason as well. It is a place of worship and education but it is also a place where people can feel safe and comforted; a haven, if you will. The building is a symbol of where someone cango who is feeling down and out because the world has beaten up on them. When people come into the church building they want to feel safe. They want to forget their troubles that the world and culture has caused them. Yet, what does the Church offer? Programs, sermons, and worship that is filled with the same culture that destroyed the individual in the first place, and mostly just to get a good reputation in the community. It's like an alcoholic goes to church and the Church offers them a drink and people think the church is cool then.
After reading this many will try and rationalize that reaching the culture means we have to use their ways to bring them in. Jesus went into the culture, He did not become part of it. This is not to say that church buildings cannot hold fun events and be entertaining to crowds. But the event has to be real and sincere, it is not a place to showcase one's talents for their own glory. Coffee and donuts never saved anyone. How far can worship service use secular ideas before true worship is sacrificed? Where is the line? Answer: it should stay out as a piece of worship, unless there is a point to it.

Other Thoughts you need to read for more explanation: