Forgiveness: An Open Letter

Remember back to a time when you had gotten the worse sunburn that you can ever imagine getting in your whole life. Remember the sting, and how no matter how much Aloe you applied it was like a drop of water in a desert in the moment of agony. Then the skin starts to peel, and there is this exposed new skin that starts to dry, and feel more like sand paper, and in some cases the burn was so bad that your skin still burned. Now imagine that dry brittle skin doesn’t go away because there is this one brand of Aloe that you need to take in order for the pain to go away this sounds too good to be true right?

Sign me up for a cure all to sunburn, or sunblock. This is how unforgiveness plays out our hearts as a metaphorical look at the condition we leave ourselves in as we hold on to pain, grudges, hurt, etc. We become this baron dried up plot of skin, or maybe land would be a better analogy as the dust bowl in the 1920’s would be another good look considering the agricultural themes the Bible carries for us. One of the chief things that the Lord Jesus asked me to do when I professed faith in him was first to forgive my earthly father for what at the time I considered unspeakable atrocities. This was something that I hung  on to for years not wanting to forgive him for anything he said, did, or didn’t do as these were now all things I couldn’t control. This made life very plain, horizontal, and baron with harsh conditions like a harsh sunburn, dried skin, or a desert.

Do you believe that there is any rest in a desert?

We may come to this realization at some point in our lives that our lives are ours, and we can decide things like outcome, and fate, and how others are remembered. While there are momentary things can alter perception, and you may believe that about yourselves, and you are the master of your own destiny. But friends this is just the here and now when Israel wandered through the desert in the pentateuch there was no rest in Israel’s disobedience, and there were no heroes of the day that mapped out their best lives now. God led, directed, and mastered as well as provided, and established his people as he establishes us today.

What is unforgiveness? Popular Blink-182 song ‘Wildfire’ lyrics say this:

“I don’t forget
I don’t forgive
I’ll never change the way I live
I always fought the urge to fall in line
I turned my back on all the rules
I’ll never heed the king of fools
I’ll never lead the perfect kind of life.”

This is a perfect example of the dialogue of thought that manifests as unforgiveness or unrepentanted as this hostility boils out of our hearts as this were all defilement of humanity comes from the heart (Matthew 15:11). This is generational, and transcultural in nature so don’t think your aggressor is an anomaly as in the eternal view of things humanity as a whole is the anomaly when it relates to God who is holy and thus set apart from relating to us in this way. Unforgiveness is also a lifestyle as seen in the lyrics above this comes from years of hardness, rebellion, and sin that has dried in the heart like cement as this is what becomes of hoarders of forgiveness we become what we don’t want. We become like our aggressors, bitter, and often alone and apart from God. This is counter intuitive to those who do believe because this defies love which is the eternal currency of Christianity John 3:16, John 13, as it prevents the eventual  flow of those whom Christ calls into himself because he laid his life down in love to redeem, and love a once lost humanity forever.

Forgiveness also kills pride and in the West we are taught to be bigger, and bigger because we are more powerful. Corporate America demonstrates this ideology in the culture that they cultivate in the workplace we are groomed on all fronts to be winners at all costs in everything we do. There is no room for sorry in this closed system or forgiveness in terms with this culture which is why we demonstrate such fear, and hostility because it’s always easier to fight back, keep moving, or get revenge than it is to eat the costs of our offenses. It would then make more sense because the pain we carry is less if we engage these routes we can always say that we forgive as the words themselves can carry your name in text, or social media as a quick facebook message can do the trick as it requires no sacrifice on your end and you can still be the hero in your own right. Right? Why say what you don’t mean? Why give someone a gift if you don’t want to give them one? When we don’t forgive someone we indeed ingest spiritual poison that slowly eats away at us and while we are the ones that rage those who have hurt us do not share in this. Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 18:21-35 of the unmerciful servant whom is forgiven of this insanely large debt out of mercy given from the judge. Only to turn around and not forgive the debt of another shortly after being forgiven of much more himself only to be thrown in jail anyway for his hardness of heart, and unforgiveness to another. God forgives us of much more than anyone in this world can ever owe us, and because we are forgiven of much we too can than like Paul in Philippians 4 be joyful much and set our minds on things that are more restful than the pain, and debts others owe us.

You have no karmic duty to uphold, and no cultural superstition that plays out in this world so there is no shame in feeling hurt, grieving, or not being okay. You can allow yourself to be a mess, and mess up because you don’t have to grow old and become this bitter old dinosaur that doesn’t give out halloween candy, or relives his past life well into his 40’s and beyond chasing the rage, or disassociating yourself until you become a shell of who you once were. Jesus didn’t die for you when you were at your best but he died for you when you were and are a mess so he can be your best. So you have this freedom to allow him to wear the hurt of your aggressors, and the shame you carry as an aggressor, or expose those areas to you if you truly have a wonderful life in the here and now.

Forgiveness is not a one and done thing someone of us reading have been through serious trauma, deep pain, and have lost more than we can imagine or maybe you know someone close to you in this kind of Agony. It isn’t something that you can give in haste or give in quantity there may be steps you need to take in which you can lay this down in it’s entirety, but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible or not worth trying or something that should be done half heartedly because we know the Bible commands us, and because God has forgiven us of much more. It’s a journey you take one step at a time with Christ and one that may leave you repeating steps, or writing that letter to your aggressor or whom ever has hurt you everyday, or forgiving them moment to moment so your heart doesn’t abscess. It’s worth venturing because you will experience the freedom in Christ and the life abundantly that he promises in him when we dive in and follow him.

Calm seas have never shaped the greatest, but it’s worth travelling. So who do you need to forgive? And what is preventing you from forgiving them? What do you gain in Christ by forgiving them?

 

 

“Wildfire” performed by Blink-182, written by Mark Hoppus, Matt Skiba, Travis Barker, and John Feldman. Copyright 2017. All Rights owned by Blink-182.

 

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Eternal Playlists With No End

 

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Banjos pluck as the band queues and rest of the set and music falls into place, and dust settles, and from now is all that is on your mind. Or maybe your band is on recording, and the CD, or Vinyl is caught itself in a loop, and your favorite song is stuck in a never ending build up. For me it’s the bridge in the middle of the song, ‘I Believe’ by REM where there is soft hum of the bass guitar and Michael is softly humming. Have you ever felt like your life is a series of hums? Or maybe you’re walk with God is a series of soft whispers as you’re listening into your telephone for a rhythm for God’s voice as you’re crying out in prayer?

I mean you can be sure that there was something at some time that led you to the course you’re on with him? Philippians 1:6 states that he who has begun a good work will see it completed on the day of Christ Jesus. Great! God has my life figured out and I don’t as we may not be sure where we will sleeping tomorrow night? Or where we will be getting our next meal from as we haven’t figured out the next few moments of our lives. Perhaps when we were children we asked to aim for the stars with our aspirations for our futures, and wish on a star so we come up with these large out of this world standard of what western, or even modern life has to offer. Maybe you saw yourself as a pro athlete, scientist, politician, person considerable interest, with no worries, or no considerable debt.

Perhaps your life was consequence free, and you could go from relationship to relationship, and decide to live anywhere with anyone. But life is in serious plateau with potential decline just like in the ‘Friends’ theme song, ‘It’s like your life is always stuck in second gear.’ How awesome that the universal aspect of being human really does speak beyond borders that lead to oceans with no end where Christ is the center where we exhume the depths of his mercy, and his love. This is different then from what we typically view love, success, and progress as we can remain at this stalemate where they can remain for an unsubscribed amount of time, and still find themselves in the fold of God in heaven. You have probably seen those memes floating around social media, or other Christian merchandise that reassure you that others in the Bible have waited in a season of life until God put their lives into gear and drove it into town where he unveils his purpose for them. While the cheese radar may go off this does hold true to what the Bible says about God being faithful to finish what he’s started with those he’s chosen.

But while we can remain as we are until our lives descend into the water park metaphor previous discussed we can come into this home stretch from really any walk of life. 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 goes into detail how beggars and kings go before God and will ultimately find themselves before him. There is no rush. Perhaps you need to realize that there is an imperfection on the album of your life, a scratched CD, or nicked vinyl doesn’t play music as it should it skips over key pieces of the audio making it rather un-listenable to the audience you lose rhythm, and momentum in the process, and you are left with garbled noise. This goes hand in hand with being salt and light attractive means in which truth is received, transported, and communicated. There is no repairing an album once it’s ruined but we are not hardware, and have means in which to get back on track.

We are provided one who has washed the imperfections from our souls with his blood so the records to our hearts, and souls eternal sing his praise. Jesus died for you not out of obligation because nothing was owed to him by us, and there is certainly nothing that we could give him that he truly can benefit from. Romans 3:23 shares how we fall short of his glory but in John 3:16 we fall well within his grace, and priority for baring the cross. My favorite imagery from any TV show is when the jukebox starts to skip and either ‘The Fonz’, or another character nudges it back on track. For the believer our petitions to be right with God, and before him is like allowing ourselves to submit to his refurbishing process so when you are in a place of constant skipping, and 2nd gear speed you are just a prayer away from being nudged back onto the symphony of worship that glorifies him.

Perhaps you’re not in Christ’s record collection and your life resembles one that needs a little extra love, and elbow grease. You might even contrast your album to being a Slayer album or maybe a Blink record compared to a Christian that you may see as Folk music, and Anne Murray records. While you’re broken at this moment you’re not lost as a lost soul is one that recognizes his distance and doesn’t come where you may be just a few scratches away from sounding like your favorite band in their prime crisp and new by trusting in Christ. You are probably like I was at one point and think well Christ wouldn’t listen to my music, I like dark gothic, or weird stuff that’s really vulgar why would this mix with faith in Christ. Christ calls you as you are, and his record collection contains an eclectic mix of people, and sounds that range throughout creation so you have room to be loved.

What track of your life are you on?

 

Taking Chances- Jesus Party of Two

Imagine you’re in a room where all your favorite people were, and it’s a party people are serving themselves at this grand potluck where it’s always going to have anyone’s favorite food at any given time. Why? Because we are all close and everyone knows what you like, and so on you are surrounded by the portraits of how everyone is at any given moment. Sounds good so far right? It gets better the music never ends and there is an never ending loop that provides all the feels that your little heart can take. You meet the best people that your parents talk about exactly how they imagine they would appear and exceed expectations you didn’t know you had. Your sphere turns into a buffet line where you have conversations with your deceased relatives that you know are passed, and for a moment you figure that you’re being given some cosmic insight into how feel good the universe and God is and how this moment hinges on all of creation.

Imagine now all this starts to flicker like a neon light outside of a bar or night club in the evening, and suddenly this grand event in your honor starts to look like unplayable characters from a video game. Now these people start to leave, the dip is gone, and you’re stuck eating olives, plain lays chips, and drinking ginger ale that someone bought to be polite. The songs become routine, and unfamiliar, and you realize the people you were once talking to are gone, and that if you had only kept in place like your parents old TV antenna perched on the house, or the TV set you would have good reception back, or would have been able to have a little more time.

Okay so now the culture of this party that you remember changes from bright and beautiful to edgy themes, and maybe you weren’t sure why it’s changing but you now that you’re angry that it did. But your friends, and the people that surround you on an everyday basis are angry for real reasons like war, their job isn’t that great, pride, they are having car troubles, or maybe they can’t communicate with their significant others. Maybe they are just as alone as you are?

But you feel that your anger isn’t justified so you hide it under your bed and go to school, go to work, go out and have fun, go to church. But it’ a lit cigarette under your bed that someone lit at your party once upon a time and you don’t know it’s there and it burns into everything you do. Making you weird because other people know that you had this awesome party once, and they weren’t invited how dare you not include them in this awesome experience. Then you start to realize some of the people at your party weren’t what they seem, and were never there for you in the first place, and these people were important centers of the party. You want an explanation to why they pretended, and hurt you, and why they showed up to your party in the first place, but these people have moved away, changed their address, and number. The pull towards these people start to feel less because of the rift between you and them, and now the constant doubt to whether you want to approach the situation. But you know that you can’t sleep at night and you’re up praying for them rationalizing with yourself whether or not it’s all in your head which most of it is. The pieces that you are missing to this puzzle are now outside your reach for two reasons; the first being that these people aren’t sorry for their trickery, the pain they caused you. They instead feel as if you owe them because maybe your party wasn’t like their previous parties that they went to, or maybe they just wanted to inflict on you which was why they came. Perhaps the dream of punching you drunk in front of your guests would make them strong, or maybe they didn’t get a chance to hit you and they instead pulled you in to stab you anyway, or they wanted to lead others away from you. Maybe this was successful but the bottom line is that these people aren’t sorry for anything that may have come against you on their behalf.

The second reason is that these people are unreachable for a few reasons like they have passed away, or they have moved and you have no way of contact. Perhaps these people ruined things so bad that it’s going to cause you damage just approaching them in any means. But you still know that you have to move past this and so there is now a four way intersection that you are parked at.

You still remember how awesome the music was, and how the food tasted, and smelt and those conversations you had with the ghosts of family past. But those people who are no longer are still on your mind, in your heart, and in your blood and as much as you try and forget your party has become a series of locked doors, a museum of thought, and memorial to a period in time that no one can see which is meant to represent some of the best pieces of you. You find love, and again and again but it strikes a match against this cold wet idea that you recall for flashes in the pan of excitement because the band is back together, and the droves of people will come back. But they don’t and you lose grip on the people around you, and become more and more angry because now the lit cigarette you left under the bed is now a roaring fire threatening structural damage.

One day you drown in flames then you jump into an ocean with no end, and in the sinking you are brought to the light, and in an instant these doors unlock, and the rotting water, and the dust are swept away by a carpenter that is now beginning to renovate the place in your heart where you kept these things locked. He then starts to rip out the molding, and the water, and fire damage that you sustained, and you begin to see that the party you threw once upon a time was very small. The people that you chased, and everything  you had wasn’t a means to itself and the party was actually really small, and the ghosts that haunted you weren’t what they seemed. So you’re alongside this carpenter helping by throwing away things he’s telling you need to be discarded, and you find things that you realize aren’t what you want to hold to.

Suddenly everything is different.

He begins to re-tile the floors, and rebuilds the room but then he doesn’t stop there he starts knocking down walls, and changing the layout of the house. Smoothing out the areas of full collapse, and cleaning out the animals that lived in the basement while finishing, and resetting the foundation. You don’t recognize the house anymore but it carries a familiar look, and those people don’t recognize you anymore and suddenly you’re able to detach.

But those people never gave you closure, and there’s one room that is still locked.

You have two options, you allow Jesus in so he can deal with the last remaining blocks of decay in your heart. Or you can hold onto it until you are dragged along with no means of letting ago you will eventually be stretched so thin you have to make a choice between your sin, or God?

What was your party? Who did you invite? How did your guests respond and would you invite them again?

What kind of life could you have if you were to fully let go of the past, and step into the upward calling of Christ Jesus without being cynical would you make that leap?

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Summer Scents

    Among the low points forests low embalming breezes set in as Ice exhales from the tip of breathe among the sights set above; sun shines in. Embraced then cradled the winds pour in like tides foaming through finger tips set on the fluid inhale, and plans liquidate the estates that tax within. The past melts in soluble mass wax that cultivates then dissipates. Bubbling then flow south to the river and the sea, and trumpets resound on summer soaked hills. Flowers bob and dance together the tempo showers through in harmonic ecstasy as the dust flows from dead smiles, and leather faces shrivel in the sun  in four four time the evaporate in urgent careful stares.

     Stumbled to our knees we all made mistakes and he’s our lifeline like children we side step into heavenly footsteps. Our sprained ankles, and broken knees reassemble as the house lights die, and the neighborhood forecloses like a graveyard ready to head east because the suburbs no longer know our names. The house life dies passing in the daytime underneath a symphony of nameless faces, and faceless names that pass from one kidney stone to another. Upward. Onward. The expanse of weight any glory abounds in fashioned congruence we can go only if you believe.

 

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God On The Dance Floor

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The idea that God moves inbetween our lives is something that most people can wrap their heads around, but the majority still hold onto the distant God theory. The truth is God yes intimacy with God does play out day to day but also it’s from generation to generation. Picture God as the most interesting dancer on the dance floor he’s moving through the crowd of human history like nothing we can ever grasp but we can witness his glory.

In John 14:6 Jesus says to his disciples, ‘I am the way the truth and the light and no one comes to the father but through me.’ In this moment Jesus reveals to everyone that he indeed is God and there is no way, path, or even prayer that be uttered in the human vocabulary that could reach God’s ears unless it goes through him. In this moment the outsider might be thinking, ‘well isn’t God one?’, or the ten commandments from Exodus chapter 20 states that there should be no other Gods before the most high God how can there be more to God if he was born as a man? Jesus in this moment doesn’t transcend and plane of existence, make any cosmic bargain with God the father to obtain authority he is born and has existed as God prior to this moment and still is God. (John 1:1-3) Jesus himself predates his incarnation in the first chapters of each gospel in the New Testament, and if we back track to the creation scenario in Genesis 1 and 2 God imprints man and woman in his image as in the first chapter of Genesis God’s spirit hovers over the waters and then imprints his image into the genetic material in which man exists. In this moment we can insert that God’s design for man is based on himself conducted in the presence of Jesus and in the likeness of Jesus as to be a reflection of God himself. God moving in spirit and in God the son and God the father in dictation of the order of which everything is structured and ordered. Therefore we see God move in three person in perfect unity as one being in the conduction, creation, and even the presence of man as he falls into sin.

In the movements we have in revelation of God in these three chapters we still see the same God in remaining 65 books his attributes remaining the same as the author of Hebrews pens remaining the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We are introduced to this holy God and we are only made aware of these attributes in man’s fall in Genesis 3, as we see how the full view of God’s holiness is forced into view as man cannot be in his presence. We come to understand his zeal, and mercy as his punishment does not fit the crime, as Satan who had deceived early man knew that blood is the only thing that can pay for sin, and that it results in death. God’s love for the crown jewel of his creation comes into focus as the punishment does not fit the crime instead he allows man to live in the filth that he has brought on to himself and creation.

This provides us with the necessity for him, and redemption as man is now in a state of perpetual sin, death, and destruction this is the case and need for Jesus as proclaimed for the first time in Genesis 3:15. Which Jesus confirms in as he centralizes himself as the summation of this need for God and fulfillment of salvation to man in John 5:39 and so the need for the fulfillment of the cross. Which John Stott confirms in his book, ‘The Cross of Christ’ that the very nature and necessity of the cross itself as the symbol of the Christian faith originates in no other place but in the mind of Jesus himself. Thus we can assert as God proclaims in Genesis 3:15 he has this in mind. So why is there so much confusion on how Jesus is God? And how can we be sure that the same God we are introduced in the Old Testament is the same God that we are devoting ourselves to in the New Testament, and how can we be sure God is truly one?

Deuteronomy is a central book in the Old Testament because it chronicles God moving with his people in a time that is before they enter into the promised land that God swore to their ancestors and after he has delivered them from centuries of slavery in Egypt. It’s a reintroduction to a lifestyle, culture, relational piece, law, and complete identity that God reintroduces to the people as they enter into a national stage among other nations. Deuteronomy is retelling of the law, and it’s also carries the aroma of reminding the people of who they are but more importantly in how they now will reflect God into how they live for him, reflect him, and represent him to make him relatable to others outside of their race. The point of this is to prepare the people that will precede the current generation of God, what he’s done but also provide and expose of man’s inherent need for God as more than just a series of tributes but to have a clear understanding the God deserves praise, and doesn’t want to be distant from us. His actions prepare a path to where we can run to him like a child running arms wide open to embrace their father and so this preparation is not an institution of religion to keep an all powerful God happy but for man to recognize his separation from God as being something that needs to be reconciled. As sin is the issue being addressed as sin is the very infectious contamination of the human race as sin ranging in variation of size, and severity in it’s consequences in how it effects those around it. Is still viewed the same in God’s eyes as an act of treason against a holy, and righteous God which is like taking the dust from a vacuum cleaner and throwing into a clean room in a micro chip factory. Sin is a ultimately a death sentence and cannot be acquitted or unpunished by a holy God and so there needs to be a means in which to reconcile which is blood, and ultimately death. The 4th quarter Hail Mary play of the fallen Satan was to use mankind God’s image to follow him in rebellion against him which he knew that God would be required to punish them. Instead we given this promise of redemption made way by God we are promised Jesus as means in which to escape the impending wrath of God that will ultimately come down.

The common phrase of tracing this meta-narrative through the Bible is called the scarlet thread in which one can trace the promise of Jesus to Jesus and to him in his second coming. Deuteronomy is a key book in foundationally preparing the people for their savior as the lifestyle of humility inwards and outwards in full observance of God, for God, and by God is what Jesus in his first coming came to re-establish in the people of Israel. We can be sure from our understanding of this that Jesus is God in as we stop here and look at how God is revealed up until this point. Genesis begins out with one God in full presence moving three distinct but equal parts father, son, and spirit pre-fall in the creation event, and pre-fall. As there was no question of this as Genesis 1:27 says to himself, ‘let’s make man in our image.’ Moving to post fall man we are now revealed to God the father and God the spirit preparing the people for the coming of God the son as while God does not require a mediation between himself and man but rather elects Abraham, Jacob, and in Deuteronomy Moses. This headship being re-introduced by these leaders to replace the role that Adam should have been in fulfillment in the first place, instructing the people and carrying out his commands, introducing the law, and establishing the people in godly lifestyle. In all of this God remains visible but without having image of what he truly looks like as to prevent idols being made out of him but also to prepare the people for Jesus in his coming.

Deuteronomy’s movements move from what God has done, to what he expects, and then what he will do (Deut. 18:15) an identity pressed, commanded and given the people are only asked to obey both in the action but in their hearts. The theme is, ‘remember lest you forget’ having a healthy fear of God in moving from a nation of ex-slaves while being prepped by God the father, and God the spirit to a life that now requires a deeper reliance on God himself than before. The transition of becoming a physical representation is the dividing line between men as Israel who had once represented the summation of what makes men so weak is now a nation strong under the Lord. Israel is described as a stiff necked and stubborn people easily swayed, rebellious, and gullible in their own fears and superstition which needs to be broken before they are can become ambassadors.

“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ – Jesus

We don’t name God; God reveals His name to us. We don’t have the right to exercise authority over God. God copyrights, He trademarks, He patents His name.” -Mark Driscoll

Jesus is the central figure of all history as he was born in this world now approx. two thousand years ago born of virgin birth his birth is declared by God’s army of heavenly hosts declaring peace an juxtaposed armistice between God and man through his revelation to man and entrance into human history. Luke 2:28 and on Jesus is recognized as the promised one in which God had spoken of in Genesis 3:15, Deuteronomy 18:15 and in every prophetic tone including the tree spoken of in Zechariah 3:10 that all are invited under. He becomes the physical mediation between man and God as this was pleaded for in Job 9 where Job asks for a some one to place one hand on him and on God. He becomes the sacrifice that Abraham tells his son Isaac about that God would provide. He would teach with authority that no prophet before him could command, and he would perform miracles that would undo the very effects of the fall themselves that only God himself could perform and that man could not say or do on his own without God’s intervention.

Prior to the gospels there was 400 years of silence from God before he decides to enters in during the Pax Romana that exists as this brief period of relative peace and prosperity. The Bible starts off as God in full view Father, Son, and Spirit working in perfect fellowship in the creation event, the creation of man, and the expulsion of man from the garden of Eden. God then is revealed as God the father giving directive, and establishing his authority and otherwise supremacy over all creation, and God the spirit anointing those leaders through generations to have the authority that will ultimately be perfected in Jesus. Which Adam was supposed to embody and each prefigured leader since would act as means to prepare the people of God and to relate God to the people until he was able to introduce himself to be the ultimate relation of himself to us.

Jesus is baptized in John 1:29-33 as he is baptized by John the Baptist God the father verifies Jesus as being his son, and God the spirit descends on him. This a great New Testament view of God as a triune God together again in revelation to man, as he now is full representation of himself and the human body is now the tabernacle in which God now comes to man to teach and preach to them.

Quentin Tarantino says this about superman in and interview,

Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red “S”, that’s the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears – the glasses, the business suit – that’s the costume. That’s the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He’s weak… he’s unsure of himself… he’s a coward. Clark Kent is Superman’s critique on the whole human race.”

Jesus puts on weakness as he comes in a similar fashion by putting on weakness in order to relate to what is it to be human in order to redeem mankind. Jesus doesn’t just put on weakness though and die in weakness so that men can just perpetually continue to live and die as a weak race of representatives but rather he reintroduces new teaching that are a retelling of a now fulfilled law in him that is derived from and based in the words that he had given man in Deuteronomy 6:4-8, Matthew 22:36-40. Before Jesus is set to take on ministry he is tempted in the desert where in the Genesis 3 Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan in a lush garden surrounded by God; Jesus is in a barren wasteland alone surrounded by Satan in means to tempt and test him. The progressive logic in this event is how can Jesus be God and still be tempted into weakness, and how could Satan know what exactly could tempt a holy God that he might give up what he has to rule in filth and rags?

Jesus puts on the weakness, and allows himself to enter into the scenario where Satan attempts to bait him by playing a weak hand towards God by trying to down play his zeal for his people and his desire for himself to be known as to them. He attempts to compartmentalize a righteous holy zeal into a finite view that doesn’t require a cross, and doesn’t involve sin to be forgiven and would result in the destruction of everything. Instead of forfeiting humanity and his ultimate plans for redemptive motion he instead meets Satan with the inerrant truth in rebuking him from Deuteronomy 6:13, 16, and 8:3. Jesus doesn’t stop in using Deuteronomy in his rebukes but he embodies the law as it’s being retold to the people through his life as he fulfills the law in preparation of the cross, he also teaches people from re-establishing them as the holy people that are holy because he indeed is holy (Deut. 7:6).

God is now revealed in the New Testament as God the son and God the spirit in full representation of God the father as the Holy Spirit;s empowerment is continually stressed. (Driscoll. 233) Each fully God as he had this people who were in transition from slaves to his people he gives them the law preparation of this revelation to now transition from being in bondage to their sin to being free children of God. And we find this to be the parallel to how God now approaches his people in Christ as Christ is the not just coming to re-tell the law but to fulfill it and prepare the people for a new way of life that now represents God in a way that is a militant mindset to one of peace by conquering hearts through love, devotion, obedience, and submission. The purpose of mirroring Deuteronomy is show how God had given man a measuring stick to measure up to in their rebellion, and so the law is meant to move man to a deep place of repentance as it does not save but condemns. But in the revelation and representation of Jesus and the Holy spirit of the father he can now provide the tree that Zechariah 3:10 speaks of in order save not just his elect but all people whom believe. (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9, Eph 2:8)

The Bible begins with a triune God creating in perfect fellowship, then moving God the Father, and God the Spirit establishing and preparing. Then it moves towards God the son and God the spirit fulfilling, redeeming, and reconstituting how man is represent God, and obey him making the body the new tabernacle that all people can fellowship with God. The consistent representation of God in the Bible is the Holy Spirit as he is seen in the beginning of the Bible hovering above the waters, and he’s the anointing of all the leaders from the Judges to Jesus and now the people God, present at the baptism of Jesus but who exactly is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy is Spirit is the very essence of God in personality, power, thoughts, and will he is present and equally God in all phases of creation and existence. The Holy Spirit is not an it, or a likeness of God that is immaterial or means of communication like long range walkie talkies. But he is a person, a personality and has a will that is of God and is God that works in the ways that carries out his own will and knows the depths of God in every possible eternal scenario. He shares the same attributes of God as he is immutable and does not change he is the same Holy Spirit seen in Genesis 1 as he is the same Holy Spirit that is at work in the believer today. He has a will as he is able to carry out instruct, empower, and bare witness as he knows the depths of God he is able to teach, and guide Christians in a manner that is only characteristic of God himself (father and son). (Grudem. 635) The Holy Spirit is all powerful and can restore, illuminate, and give spiritual gifts that exist outside of the human spectrum of power, and dominion. (Grudem. 634) He is also able to divinely inspire scripture which also shares God the father and Jesus traits of being omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent so he knows all and is in every stage of existence at once in the future, past and in the past everywhere in one single moment.

So in this God the Spirit is the witness, and the power that empowers the Christian people to rightly represent God in Christ to the rest of the world that is in unbelief. His divine inspiration of the Bible testifies as he was present in Moses penning of Deuteronomy allowing Moses access to details only God would have access to about God, and about man even in the books prior to Deuteronomy. Even in Moses death in the conclusion of Deuteronomy the Holy Spirit bares witness to the account of Moses’s burial and so in his representation of God’s heart, thoughts and essence we can also look at his presence in all phases of the Bible to be holy, and truthful as what is known of God is that he cannot lie. And with his witness of Jesus being fully God and fully man we can rest that God’s testimony is not bias, or partial but one given in full truth.

So why is there so much confusion on how Jesus is God? And how can we be sure that the same God we are introduced in the Old Testament is the same God that we are devoting ourselves to in the New Testament, and how can we be sure God is truly one?

As we have discussed we have looked at how God has remained in tact throughout the Bible and how his movements and revelation to man has been one that is felt and dealt with in the different ways that he has interacted and deemed appropriate to do so in different areas of scripture. He leaves us the meta-narrative to follow to chronicle and follow after him and better understand the depths of who he is from our finite standpoint but also so we can understand and not forget the reason of who we are, and why we need him. He answers with a resounding yes that Jesus is indeed is God as he leaves us with no other option but to agree or disagree with him. (C.S. Lewis) The faith step we take is for us to take but he catches us with inerrant doctrine, scripture that has built foundations of who he is, and who we are and how to live in his presence. He has given us detail into how Jesus is, what he will do, and why before he is even introduced as we know him; the carpenter from Galilee and he also provides all details to tie up any doubt in his faithful witness of the Holy Spirit. The same God that hovers on the waters of creation is the same God that died for a lost humanity on a cross, and the same God that is now at work in convicting broken man of sin in order to prepare them for a life that God has predestined to reward us with well in advanced.

Works Cited.

Driscoll, Mark. Breshears, Gary. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2010. Print.

Wilkinson, Bruce. Boa, Kenneth. Talk Thru The Bible. Nashville, TN. Thomas House. 2002. Print.

Jensen, Peter. The Revelation of God Contours of Christian Theology. Downers Grove, IL. Inter Varsity Press. 2002. Print.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 1994. Print.

Merrill, Eugene. The New American Commentary: Deuteronomy Vol. 4. Nashville, TN. B&H Publishing. 1994. Print.

Sproul. R.C, Who is Jesus. North Mankato, MN. Tyndale House. 2010. Print.

Stott, John. The Cross of Christ. Downser Grove, IL. IVP. 2006. Print.

 

Unmasking Jesus: The Purpose of Temptation

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The idea of Jesus Christ being tempted has been the focal point of debate, and imagination in many in the last 2,000 years. Sources like Hollywood, and The New York Times bestsellers list have taken liberties with how a thing can be. As we step back and reflect perhaps the question we should be asking is why was Jesus tempted?

The person of Jesus is defined as the God man, the hypostatic union that is the combonation of the union between the divine nature of Jesus with the human element. Genesis 3:15 is the first mention of this as he would be born of woman and not of the conventional means that which would override the sin nature that falls on the shoulders of all image bearers under the headship of Adam the first man. (Psalm 51) The debate of the nature of Jesus has been of much debate as many in the faith have not physically seen him but the scriptures in their inerrant testimony of God’s meta-narrative redemptive movements give complete documentation of who Jesus is. In Matthew 4 and Luke 4 Jesus after being baptized is tempted in the wilderness and the question posed is even as a man how can God be tempted?

Man was created in the image of God in the creation event in Genesis 1 and 2 where God in three persons planned out and made man in his image to reflect him both physically, and spiritually as man was made to be a living spirit. God had man in his image socially as he had given Adam a helper the first woman, Eve whom Adam the first man was set to reflect God in three areas: as a worker, a wise man, and a warrior. These roles were given to Adam to up hold practicing godly wisdom as he is given knowledge and instruction naming animals, and instructing his wife cultivating her in God’s teachings. Genesis 3 marks the change in history where man rebels against God cursing all men are cursed to live in sin, born spiritually dead. (Romans 5:12, Psalm 51) Genesis 3:15 enters in the proto-gospel of the one who will crush the head of the serpent and who will mend the relationship between God and man. The cross itself originated in the mind of Jesus himself as he knew from that moment that he would be brought low become a man, live a life that reflects the one that Adam and Eve were originally intended to live as the last Adam, and dying on the cross atoning the sins of man. Sin is an infection that is deep rooted and is the present in the natural man who is born into spiritual still born state that is opposed to God. At it’s essence it’s ‘the failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.’ (Grudem. 490) It’s root is rebellion and blooms into everything from lawlessness to faithlessness and all in between with the common denominator being death. Sin takes the form of everything from being a piece of fruit that was forbidden to eat, to riches, fame, fun, it’s formless and yet is the shape of anyone’s desire. It’s however the thing that promises quick reward apart from God, and is against God making it’s effects to be devastating to those whom feel the reprocussions.

While sin effects can range from major to minor and often times are overlooked they ultimately are against God at it’s core. (Psalm 51:4) Temptation however is the alluring call to sin that provides foothold into one’s life if they are to accept fellowship with it but is not sin. Jesus is counted as being he who knows no sin but became sin upon the cross for all but is tempted himself in the wilderness in Matthew 4, and Luke 4 the account of which Christ is confronted by sin that offers him temptations that go against the grain offering short cuts in his ministry and are crossless means in which of winning over the world trumping God’s override and destruction of his image bearers.

Jesus himself is the fulfillment of over 300 prophesies concerning his coming, his virgin birth, his life, his ministry, death, and resurrection leading up to the day of the Lord in accurate detail. Jesus is presented as the second member of the trinity as he has provided characteristics in his coming that he only can have in common with God himself that being his omnipotence as he is able to read minds (Mt. 9:4), walk on water (Mt. 14:22-33), raises the dead (Mark 5:21-43, Luke 7:11-17, John 11:1-44) performs miracles having two members of the trinity present at his baptism, providing testimony to his credentials as God. He is also revealed in the transfiguration as being God to his disciples as they are shown Moses, and Elijah in the presence of Jesus transfigured before God the father. (Matthew 17) The evidence surrounding Jesus being fully God and fully man is documented and witnessed by those present and heavenly hosts who proclaimed his coming to the surrounding public. His presence as the messiah sent by God even confirmed being presented at the temple in Luke Chapter 2 the scriptures themselves are presented as the inerrant testimony of God breathed out (2 Tim. 3:16). So the argument of Jesus’s divinity is undeniable, and his birth his capacity to feel and relate in weakness to man is also before us in the scripture that as he lived, breathed, and ate he was fully God and there is no separating the two pieces of Christ’s person.

So how then can Christ as being fully God and man be tempted even if he doesn’t carry the curse, and mark of sin?

God is sovereign and is the same God that under his sovereignty oversaw indirectly Satan enter into the garden to tempted Adam and Eve. Is the same sovereign God that would allow himself to be tempted in the same weakness that brought him low to save his beloved creation while Jesus was fully God he is complete with personality and has displayed full spectrum of emotions, and desires to do the will of the father whom had sent him. As Jesus did not know sin as the first Adam pre-fall didn’t know it either was still armed with the same knowledge of identity, commands from God wasn’t tempted by the normal things that the natural man could be tempted by women, fame, money, finite power the things that sin offers one to gain in place of God as the object of the worship.

Satan is only able to tempt Jesus with short cuts that reveal his character of being finite, but still short cuts that stray from the path to the cross, and into the dead ends of finite broken, and empty avenues of Lordship that yes would provide absolute quick and temporary imitations of peace and security of God’s will but nothing that would provide man with the eternal promise that we do know in Christ but instead would have offered a burned bridge leaving man under the full condemnation of God himself.

The purpose in Christ’s temptation wasn’t a matter of whether or not could Jesus pass the test in order to become messiah he already was the messiah with identity in tact. In fact the purpose of the temptation was to display the power of God’s word and the ability that it has for freedom over sin, and temptation. As Christ was in the wilderness there comes a parallel between the first Adam in paradise in Genesis 3 being tempted and falling, and Jesus the last Adam being the first born of the dead turning to God in the midst of temptation in a barren wasteland distant from God and succeeding. The temptation is set to serve as a model that Jesus set the bar that as distant as one can come from God can still overcome bondage through his word, and submission to his commands.

Philippians 2:5-11 Jesus came in poured out servitude that serves as the bar that one who calls himself a disciple needs to meet. The temptation is meant to serve as the model one needs to come to in the face of temptation leaving people without the excuse to continue in their sin while Christ’s sacrifice pays for it the practice of it by no means should continue. “Satan gives Adam and apple and takes away paradise. Therefore in all temptations let us consider not what he offers but what we shall lose.”- Richard Sibbes. God cannot be tempted (James 1:13) and for God to be subject to temptation is not for the benefit that he himself can beat down on the principalities of darkness which he will eventually do, but rather endure so that he may lead others through trials as an example to imitate that reflects God himself into the darkest places.

Works Cited

Drisoll, Mark. Breshears, Gary. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. Wheaton, IL. Crossway. 2008. Print.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 1994. Print.

Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York, NY. Harper One. 1952. Print.

Pentecost, J. Dwight. A Harmony of The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 1981. Print.

Wilkinson, Bruce. Boa,Kenneth. Talk Thru The Bible. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson. 2002. Print.