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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The wonderful mystery of Gethsemane

At this time of Easter, much has often been said about the crucifixion, but, not so much is said about the night before in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The movie, The Passion of Christ, by Mel Gibson, gave the impression that in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was wrestling over the pain that He would endure in His crucifixion. There is also a beautiful song entitled, A Bridge You Cannot Burn (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWyEeAYGRxA), which focuses on the crucifixion. The lyrics say, “With only three nails and two pieces of wood, with one rugged cross Jesus built a bridge the only way He could, so we could live in glory land some day.”



Surely in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus foresaw much physical agony during His soon-coming 6 hour torture. But, what we want to look at today is that Jesus was in agony, suffering something mysterious, something unaccounted for, prior to His cross on Golgotha while He was still in Gethsemane. More than prayer for the crucifixion must have been going on the night before.

I would like to read the short gospel accounts of Jesus' experience in the Garden of Gethsemane as related by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Jesus in the Garden has been the essence of Christianity since its inception. This is what has given courage to Christians in all ages during times of persecution and difficulty.

No matter what the denomination, this is the central point of our religion, Christianity. For almost 2,000 years this is what Christians have rehearsed. This tradition is your gift from Jesus. May it never get old. So, together we are going to lovingly, and with great reverence, look at this ancient source of faith and hope, like the earliest congregations read it together while in hiding during the days of the Caesars and during the Dark Ages.

According to Matthew:
Mat 26:36  Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
Mat 26:37  And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Mat 26:38  Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.
Mat 26:39  And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.
Mat 26:40  And He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?
Mat 26:41  Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Mat 26:42  He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.
Mat 26:43  And He came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
Mat 26:44  And He left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

According to Mark:
Mar 14:32  And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and He saith to His disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.
Mar 14:33  And He taketh with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;
Mar 14:34  And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.
Mar 14:35  And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.
Mar 14:36  And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from Me: nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt.
Mar 14:37  And He cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?
Mar 14:38  Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
Mar 14:39  And again He went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.

According to Luke:
Luk 22:39  And He came out, and went, as He was wont, to the mount of Olives; and His disciples also followed Him.
Luk 22:40  And when He was at the place, He said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
Luk 22:41  And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
Luk 22:42  Saying, Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done.
Luk 22:43  And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him.
Luk 22:44  And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Luk 22:45  And when He rose up from prayer, and was come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow,
Luk 22:46  And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

According to John:
Joh 18:1  When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples.


Let's look a little deeper at the original Greek words.
Mat 26:36  Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane,G1068
 and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
Mat 26:37  And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowfulG3076 and very heavy.G85
Mat 26:38  Then saith He unto them, My soulG5590 is exceeding sorrowful,G4036 even unto death:G2288 tarry ye here, and watch with Me.
Mat 26:39  And He went a little further,G3397 and fellG4098 on His face,G4383 and prayed,G4336 (G2532)  saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.
~~~
G1068 Gethsemane Of Chaldee origin (compare [H1660] and [H8081]); oil press, Gethsemane, a garden near Jerusalem
G3076 lupeo From G3077; to distress; reflexively or passively to be sad
G85 ademoneo From a derivative of adeo (to be sated to loathing); to be in distress (of mind)
G5590 psuche From G5594; breath, that is (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from G4151, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from G2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew [H5315], [H7307], and [H2416]
G4036 perilupos From G4012 and G3700; grieved all around, that is, intensely sad
G2288 thanatos From G2348; (properly an adjective used as a noun) death (literally or figuratively)
G3397 mikron Masculine or neuter singular of G3398 (as noun); a small space of time or degree
G4098 pipto peto The first is a reduplicated and contracted form of the second (which occurs only as an alternate in certain tenses); probably akin to G4072 through the idea of alighting; to fall (literally or figuratively)
G4383 prosopon From G4314 and ops (the visage; from G3700); the front (as being towards view), that is, the countenance, aspect, appearance, surface; by implication presence, person
G4336 proseuchomai From G4314 and G2172; to pray to God, that is, supplicate, worship

Mar 14:33  And He taketh with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed,G1568 andG2532 to be very heavy;G85
Mar 14:34  And saith unto them, My soulG5590 is exceeding sorrowfulG4036 unto death:G2288 tarry ye here, and watch.
Mar 14:35  And He went forwardG4281 a little,G3397 and fellG4098 on the ground,G1093 and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.
Mar 14:36  And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me: nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt.
~~~
G1568 ekthambeo From G1569; to astonish utterly
G85 ademoneo From a derivative of adeo (to be sated to loathing); to be in distress (of mind)
G5590 psuche From G5594; breath, that is (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from G4151, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from G2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew [H5315], [H7307], and [H2416]
G4036 perilupos From G4012 and G3007; grieved all around, that is, intensely sad
G2288 thanatos From G2348; (properly an adjective used as a noun) death (literally or figuratively)
G4281 proerchomai From G4253 and G2064 (including its alternate); to go onward, precede (in place or time)
G3397 mikron Masculine or neuter singular of G3398 (as noun); a small space of time or degree
G4098 pipto peto The first is a reduplicated and contracted form of the second (which occurs only as an alternate in certain tenses); probably akin to G4072 through the idea of alighting; to fall (literally or figuratively)
G1093 ge Contracted from a primary word; soil; by extension a region, or the solid part or the whole of the terrene globe (including the occupants in each application)


Luk 22:41  And He was withdrawnG645 from them about a stone’sG3037  cast,G1000  and kneeled down,G5087 G1119 and prayed,G4336
Luk 22:42  Saying, Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done.
Luk 22:43  And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him.
Luk 22:44  And beingG1096 in an agonyG74 He prayed more earnestly: and His sweatG2402 was as it were great dropsG2361 of bloodG129 falling down to the ground.
~~~
G645 apospao From G575 and G4685; to drag forth, that is, (literally) unsheathe (a sword), or relatively (with a degree of force implied) retire (personally or factiously)
G3037 lithos Apparently a primary word; a stone (literally or figuratively
G1000 bole From G906; a throw (as a measure of distance)
G5087 tithemi A prolonged form of a primary word theo (which is used only as an alternate in certain tenses); to place (in the widest application, literally or figuratively; properly in a passive or horizontal posture, and thus different from G2476, which properly denotes an upright and active position, while G2749 is properly reflexive and utterly prostrate)
G1119 gonu Of uncertain affinity; the “knee”
G4336 proseuchomai From G4314 and G2172; to pray to God, that is, supplicate, worship

“And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44).

Before He even began to pray in earnest, Jesus was almost unable to walk. What hit Him came so suddenly that it caused Him to fall after just a few steps of leaving His friends.

Jesus could barely walk “a little further”;  Mark says, “forward a little”; Luke says, “a stone’s  cast” before His collapse. He wanted some privacy as He sought His Father’s face. But, all was dark and only silence from His Father. He was not hearing the normal response from His Abba. He was alone in the world, rejected by the humanity that He had created and loved, forgotten by His closest friends who were fast asleep. He was also despised by Satan and hunted by men who Satan had taught to hate and murder.

Jesus stumbles into the garden and collapses onto the ground, deranged, exhausted, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Do you see the picture that God is developing here so that the fallen human can grasp something that the eye can’t see, but faith can appreciate and comprehend it? We don’t have to be sleeping through the most important focal point in all of its Earth’s history. We don’t have to miss His great sacrifice for us when, today, Jesus on the throne is trying to attract our attention to it.

“Luk 22:44  And beingG1096 in an agonyG74 He prayed more earnestly:G1617 and His sweatG2402 was as it were great dropsG2361 of bloodG129 falling down to the ground.”

G74 agonia From G73; a struggle (properly the state), that is (figuratively) anguish
G1617 ektenesteron Neuter of the compound of G1618; more intently

Luke 22:44 was a wave of mental torture that engulfed the Son of God, and Luke 22:44 gives the impression that that wave of agony was one of many waves. Like a birthing mother in her contractions, His agony was always present, but then it would surge up again and again, and overwhelm the Son of God. The three separate hours of prayer involved many other waves of agony that forced from Jesus muffled screams and deep wails and more desperate pleas for His Father’s help in the trials.

“Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death.” (Heb. 5:7). His agony, this “struggle, anguish”, involved wrestling over whether or not to go through with the final events of His life. But, this anguish was superhuman, so much that it forced blood from His pores. Isaiah 52:14 shoes that more than only his forehead was sweating blood, but also His whole body exuded blood. “As many were astonied [astonished]  at Thee; His visageH4758 was so marred more than any man, and His formH8389 more than the sons of men.” (Isa. 52:14). Yes, He was looking at the physical torment that He would endure, but, His torments were far greater in nature than anticipation of physical pain.
H4758 mar'eh From H7200; a view (the act of seeing); also an appearance (the thing seen), whether (real a shape (especially if handsome, comeliness; often plural the looks), or (mental) a vision
H8389 to'ar From H8388; outline, that is figure or appearance

A special prophecy from the Old Testament illuminates this mysterious agony that Jesus was suffering. That special prophecy was the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah chapter 53. It says that God would “see of the travail of His soul” and “make His soul an offering for sin”. It says, “He shall bear their iniquities”.

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.” (Isa. 53:10,11).

It wasn’t physical pain causing mental pain and death, but vice versa. It was rather mental pain; causing physical pain and death.

“Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isa. 53:4,5). The people would believe that His punishment was for His transgressions and iniquities, instead of for theirs and ours.

Jesus was going into labor that turned into hard labor. And though his hard labor ended in His death it has produced many new births, even still today. In the garden He was taking our place in damnation, suffering Judgment Day in our place. And, with His mental trauma and His sinking into eternal torment and death, we are saved from all of our mental trauma and then eternal death.

This life is full of mental trauma. We call it “anxiety” and “depression” and even “stroke”. Isaiah 53:5 calls it “the chastisement of our peace”. I prefer the Bible's terminology over the terms from psychology because its perspective is from God's viewpoint. Depression is related to unbelief. That living death is the consequence of the lack of trusting in Jesus. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36).

“The chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” “The chastisement of our peace”, His whipped conscience, is what Jesus was experiencing in Gethsemane, but it was exponentially worse that anything we face in our minds and lives because He was bearing that depression and anxiety for 10 billion people—everyone who ever had lived, was living then, and would live until He returns in glory. All have sinned, and sin has separated us from God, the God of love. Love is what makes the world go around, not money. Love is what keeps us sane and contented. Infinite love is what surrounded Jesus every day of His life.

“For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.” (John 3:34). God gave the Spirit without measure unto Him. The Spirit without measure from the Father to His beloved Son was the Father’s love inundating Jesus constantly, day and night, awake and asleep. Imagine having what Jesus had!! No wonder He was so happy and full of life that devils ran away and so did disease. Death couldn’t even remain if He entered its space and looked it in the face. Life! Life is all that can exist in the presence of Jesus, because He was divine and divinity means creative life! Divinity means righteousness and joy unbounded! Jesus was the second Adam because He came with the same sinless nature that Adam had before sin came into this world. Joy and communion with Jesus was everywhere in the Garden of Eden. No depression or doubts or sadness anywhere! Adam looked forward to each new day with all of his Creator’s gifts spread out all around him—the infinite varieties of loving animals and the limitless plant kingdom. And above all that, the constant, open communion with his Creator and his Creator’s angelic visitors.

“I have set the LORD always before Me: because He is at My right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore My heart is glad, and My glory rejoiceth: My flesh also shall rest in hope.…
Thou wilt shew Me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:8,9,11).

Christ had constant communion with His Father. It was deep, full, continuous blessing from heaven. Heavenly light and purity raining down from His Father was Jesus’ experience every moment of His life. Everything Paul wrote to the church described the walk Jesus always had talking with His Father.

“The riches of His [Father's] glory, strengthened [Jesus] with might by His [Father's] Spirit in [His] inner man;
[God] dwelled in [Jesus’] heart by faith; [the Son of God], being rooted and grounded in love, comprehended...what was the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And He knew the love of [His Father], which passed knowledge, thus [the Son] was filled with all the fulness of [His Father].” (Eph. 3:16-19).

Everything the church was enjoying Jesus had. In fact, let's substitute Jesus' name instead of the church's name, just to give us a better sense of the power Jesus was experiencing.

His Abba, His God of love, His beloved Father was forever by His side, with whom He had spent eternity past in perfect  happiness in heaven and with whom He had spent 33 years of human life on earth. He had known constant love and obedience, serving God the Father who He admired and adored, just like the first Adam.

But, now the Spirit without measure was all taken away.

All of the joy, all of the purpose, all of the peace, in which the first Adam rejoiced in the Garden of Eden and which the second Adam, Jesus, had enjoyed, now disappeared in another garden—the Garden of Gethsemane. From the ever glorious Garden of Eden that Jesus walked in every day to the woeful and dismal and dark Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus knew a change from supreme happiness and pain-free health in the fullest extent to supreme emptiness and painful anxiety that wouldn’t go away. In the place of drinking in the Spirit given from His Father without measure in quantity and quality, Jesus was drinking of His Father’s wrath without measure. It was a wasteland in His soul, a soul desolated, “blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke” (Joel 2:30), devastation and wreckage.

This is what caused the waves of agony in Jesus in Gethsemane. This is the torment that our sinfulness caused the innocent Son of God and had plagued our Father in heaven.

We get an even clearer picture of Christ’s horrific separation from God in Revelation 14. Although He never fell into sin or into any temptation, such as the mark of the Beast temptation, Jesus experienced the plagues that everyone would receive for their life of unforsaken sin. Jesus suffered exactly as we read:

“If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the [Father]: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:9-11).

“…the wrath of God, … poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; … tormented with fire and brimstone … their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night.” Revelation 14:9-11 speaks of the Father’s wrath without measure. upon Jesus for everyone who won't trust in Him. Jesus takes their place in the wrath of God. Revelation 14:9-11 is the best description of what Jesus was passing through in the Garden of Gethsemane. Being tormented with fire an brimstone to death looks worse than all that happened to Jesus’ body the next day. Jesus was what every Old Testament burnt offering prefigured.

But, certainly the next day’s whipping and abuse by Jewish and Roman soldiers, and the crucifixion added to His tortured mind and soul from the wrath of God without measure.

The anxiety and painful disillusionment pounded Christ mind, soul, and body in bursts that knocked Him to the ground. It was being forsaken by His Father that later wrung from His lips, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthaniG4518? that is to say, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46).
G4518 sabachthani Of Chaldee origin [H7662] with pronominal suffix; thou has left me; sabachthani  (that is, shebakthani), a cry of distress

That cry was not from His faith failing, but it was the natural distress that all children experience when their parent(s) are not visibly present. The spiritual and emotional agony was the real sacrifice of the Lamb of God. And it came from the loss of His Father and His Father’s measureless Spirit of truth and comfort. It revealed the strength of His love. The separation looked like a bottomless emptiness, like a gaping cavern thousands of feet deep, it was measureless separation from the God of love and judgment, which killed the Son of God.

Christ’s cry was a lesson for us all. We all probably have experienced depression and sadness that steals from us all joy. We may know disappointment and emptiness and anxiety the cause of which seems to be such a mystery. But, Jesus in Gethsemane shows us the cause of all of our troubles—and that cause is sin. and the lack of God's love. Our sorrows come from our separation from the holy God of love that our sins cause.

“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not [too] shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear [so] heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, [so] that He will not hear.” (Isa. 59:1,2).

This was the situation with Christ, but not because of Himself, “not for Himself”. But, rather, it was because of “the overspreading of abominations.” (Dan. 9:26). Jesus suffered in that last Passover because of our abominable sinfulness. “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (2Cor. 5:21).

Remember what Isaiah wrote about the Father’s treatment of Jesus, His beloved, suffering Servant. “It pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief…. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied” (Isa. 53:10,11). It was the soul, the heart, of Christ, that took the most beating during that 18 hours.

Jesus told His disciples, “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.” (John 16:21).

The scriptures are they which testify of Jesus. Scriptures also have written of Him, “…she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for Thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it.” (1Sam. 4:19,20). The Father said unto His Son, Fear not; for Thou hast born a son. But His Son answered not, neither did He regard it.”

Jesus had great travail of soul and chastisement of peace. And we are the reason He suffered the trauma. It was for our second birth—“that a man [child might be] born into the world”. He died in hard labor, in an extended 18 hour, night and day travail. But though He could see nothing but darkness and hopelessness, He died hoping in His Father’s love for Him, and trusting in His Father’s determination to save many of Their children.

The scriptures again testify of Jesus.

“Who against hope believed in hope, that He might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall Thy seed be….
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
And being fully persuaded that, what [His Father] had promised, He was able also to perform.
And therefore it was imputed to Him for righteousness [as our substitute and surety].
Now it was not written for His sake alone, that it was imputed to Him;
But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Rom. 4:18,20-25).

The Garden of Gethsemane reveals the real message of the Passover and of Easter. This is the power that gave birth to the apostolic church and the power to save from the hold of sin. And it will raise us up also from our depression and anxiety and addictions and sinful habits. It will start a revival that will travel around the world like fire through the stubble.

Monday, March 19, 2018

A text to a friend

Me: Brother, did you tell me one time that theology is the highest of all studies? I agree because it is the study of the Creator of the universe and of the thoughts of those who the Omniscient One made the wisest of men.

“Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon Him for?
And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” (Deut. 4:5-8).

Theology isn’t just the study of the Bible, but the study of the mind and character of Christ and of God. That makes it the science of all sciences and should earn a bachelors, masters, and higher, science degrees. It studies the Creator who made all the laws that all the sciences study. Without God’s infinite never-ending, relentless love we have no rest day or night. We have a God-sized hole in our little hearts. Our nerves are forever jangling and it drieth the bones.

What sciences in classical education will ever fix the societal and personal arising from the lack of love none have so far? They are ever learning but never able to come to a solution for this problem. So this atheistic world continues to plummet in its lethal tailspin. Money doesn’t make the world go around. Love does. Give me my science degree!

I speak for Him who has made humanity and knows what makes us tick. I speak for Him who will make man’s wisdom foolishness and turn diviners mad. “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” (1Cor. 1:19). “Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself; that frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish.” (Isa. 44:24,25). The wisest of men wrote, “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1Cor. 1:20,21).

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in His presence.
But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1Cor. 1:26-31).

“As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” (Rom. 9:33). “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (1Pet. 2:6-8).

The world has again stumbled at that Stumbling block. The world has come to believe that God is foolishness. Even though the scientific community may consider me a fool, I am a disciple of the Master Teacher, and His laws have become my wisdom. He is my hero; and in Him will I trust. Christians may be considered the off-scouring of the world, but we are only earthen vessels that hold this amazing scientific treasure, the word of God.

Daniel: Amen! Theology is called “the queen of sciences.”

Me: Amen! But I prefer to give it the title, “the king of sciences”.

Superficiality

“Let love be without dissimulationG505.” (Rom. 12:9).

G505 anupokritos From G1 (as a negative participle) and a presumed derivative of G5371; undissembled, that is, sincere: - without…(hypocrisy), unfeigned.

“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” (1Pet. 1:22).

“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1Tim. 1:5).

“By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned.” (2Cor. 6:6).

The superficial character, the fake, the put-on, rends the pure heart of God. It slays the Lamb. The superficial offends the hosts that inhabit the government of eternal truth. And it causes the children of men to destroy one another.

What form of rebellion does not arise from the lack of genuine love? All rebellion ascends from that bottomless pit. But to be truly loved is the cradle out of which springs the only truly good people. Other than genuine love there can be no other force for good that moves hearts made in the image of the God of love. What are humans without constantly receiving sincere love? We become animals. We tear down everything good. All we need in order to do Satan’s bidding is to grow up without experiencing tenderness and affection. Doesn’t the mastermind of evil know this?

“And it [Satan behind the little horn] waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice [the redeeming power of the cross] was taken away, and the place of His sanctuary [His ministration of His Father’s redeeming, reconciled love] was cast down.” (Dan. 8:10,11).

Doesn’t Satan, the most subtle of all intelligent creation, know what happens when heartfelt love is not administered to Earth-bound sinners, which were made especially to represent the corporeal embodiment of the Creators’ character of acceptance and kindness? Of course Satan knows this, and that is why he does everything to substitute a look-alike empty of real affection and a gracious love that “endureth for ever” (Ps. 107:1). Therefore, wouldn’t it also be true that that mastermind of evil would very subtly remove the children of God from such everlasting love that ever flows from the heart of God? Wouldn’t the destroyer let the only source of justification and sanctification slowly become absent in the world, and even in the church? Wouldn’t he insert doctrine that makes some other need more important than the need for love? Wouldn’t Lucifer use something very legitimate, besides the very foundation of human sanity and happiness, to have the highest priority in the church? Wouldn’t the deceiver use obedience? Wouldn’t he use duty and good works?

“And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.” (Dan. 8:24).

“Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.” (Dan. 7:23).

Wouldn’t the devilish one use the Law of God absent of the gospel of God, which shows the love of God, the goodness of God? Wouldn’t he hide the infinitely rich kindness of God that His apostolic messenger exulted in: “That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7). Yes, the son of perdition would hide love so that God’s children would become dysfunctional by a faked, superficial love.

Superficial love, ugh. What a plague!

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:20).

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Matt. 23:27,28).

Living without love, what a blight to the human mind and body and soul! But, true, real love, what a boon to whole person health!

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2Tim. 1:7).

What power for good judgment and discernment comes from love! What calm for rest and health for brain and nerves! What balance for moderation, adding to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, for “charity suffereth long, and is kind”! Without love we have no willpower to do right or go in the right direction. We cannot hear truth unless it comes packaged in love. Soundness of mind comes with love. Jesus was doing that during His developing years before He started His ministry of miracles.

“Jesus was the healer of the body as well as of the soul. He was interested in every phase of suffering that came under His notice, and to every sufferer He brought relief, His kind words having a soothing balm. None could say that He had worked a miracle; but virtue—the healing power of love—went out from Him to the sick and distressed. Thus in an unobtrusive way He worked for the people from His very childhood. And this was why, after His public ministry began, so many heard Him gladly.” Desire of Ages, p. 92.
 
Even demoniacs lost their mental soundness because they received no love; and Jesus healed them with love.

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Eph. 4:14,15).

We can accept any amount of reproof from Jesus, from angels, from people when we are certain that they love us. It is so true, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” (1Jn. 5:3). When we know God loves us, then obeying His commandments is easy and light work. Even obeying this world’s authorities comes easy.

“Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee.” (Ps. 63:3).

“And I will walk at liberty: for I seek Thy precepts.
I will speak of Thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
And I will delight myself in Thy commandments, which I have loved.
My hands also will I lift up unto Thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in Thy statutes.” (Ps. 119:45-48).

Remembering Him will be natural and constant because the easiest thing in the world for someone to remember is the one who loves him.

“Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee.
Thus will I bless Thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in Thy name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips:
When I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches.
Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice.
My soul followeth hard after Thee: Thy right hand upholdeth me.” (Ps. 63:3-8).

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” (Ps. 103:2-4).

When we see the lovingkindness of God we always remember Him in His requirements. Thy Law is no longer just the Law.

“O how love I Thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” (Ps. 119:97).

Righteousness by keeping the Law comes from a disposition that the beloved of God hate with a passion because they don’t see love there.

“For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” (Gal. 2:19).

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Gal. 2:21).

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).

And what do we get when we try harder and harder to get obedience right without experiencing the love of God? We get the fake, we get pretence, we get empty play-acting, which is what the Roman “hypocrites” did for a living—they used a stage to create a reality. Could the church’s pulpit and platform be a similar stage, for a similar production?

“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
And hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (Rev. 2:2-4).

Yes, faking it has always been a temptation.

“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:5).

Was Jesus sincere about His threat? He was as real as the fact that He did remove their light to the world. Over time their works remained brightly beaming, but their souls were left tormented in an empty void, until all who continued their empty performances relieved their tortured souls by avarice, ambition, and murder. All this wickedness came from the problem that Paul addressed in the early church.

“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?... They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.” (Gal. 4:9,17). All that the unredeemed heart can produce is effect, an imitation, a feeling, a fraud. And to make up for the lack of redeeming power, zeal is poured on, “light and much power, but no sweet love, joy, and peace” Early Writings, p. 56. Fanatical presentation of dead requirements might look good, but to all who have received the love of God, zealous feelings amount to nothing. Zealous feeling is all that Satan can implant in the soul. A church fallen away could only fall further and further away from the only source of strength in Jesus. “Satan’s object was to keep them deceived and to draw back and deceive God’s children.” Early Writings, p. 56.

Thus, the post-apostolic church’s love of money, the love of the world, the love of praise from others became the root of all evil. But, those roots of evil had even deeper root hairs in their loss of God’s love, His Spirit of grace and supplication. How these deceived, sleeping, corrupted religious leaders differed from Moses’ pure, simple, innocent yearning to have a deeper knowledge God’s love! And notice the rest that comes with that love!

“And Moses said unto the LORD, See, Thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me. Yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight.
Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, shew me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight: and consider that this nation is Thy people.
And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
And he said unto Him, If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? Is it not in that Thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.
And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name.
And he said, I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory.
And He said, I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” (Ex. 33:12-19).

Let’s fight to comprehend the simplicity of genuine love. Under the fullness of love’s sanctifying power our flesh will rest in hope and we will love the Father’s Law. We will happily keep His commandments, “which if a man do, he shall even live in them” (Eze. 20:11). “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy [rearguard].” (Isa. 58:8). And, “Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isa. 58:14).

We can live off of that love, as Moses needed no food for forty days while living in the presence Jehovah who is love. And as Jesus, who in a body like ours, has for 2,000 years needed no earthly source of joy or food because He has had His Father’s infinite, full, perfect love. For He said, “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt. 26:29). And as the prophets who needed no air to breathe while they were bathed in the light of heaven, so we need nothing else than the blessed love of Jesus in order to do all that He requires, and to be His children of peace and glory.

Let’s say No to pretence and superficiality, especially to superficial love. Let’s say Yes to the real thing, “the things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10). Let’s “let love be without dissimulation.” (Rom. 12:9).

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:11). “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.” (Ps. 16:9).

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Sealing, Charagma or Charakter?


“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his markG5480 [charagma] in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:9,10).

“Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express imageG5481 [charaktēr] of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Heb. 1:3).

“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the sealG4973 [sphragis] of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealedG4972 [sphragizō] the servants of our God in their foreheads.” (Rev. 7:2,3).

Charagma G5480 From the same as G5482; a scratch or etching, that is, stamp (as a badge of servitude), or sculptured figure (statue).

Charaktēr G5481 From the same as G5482; a graver (tool or the person), that is, (by implication) engraving ([“character”], the figure stamped, that is, an exact copy or [figuratively] representation.

Sphragis G4973 Probably strengthened from G5420; a signet (as fencing in or protecting from misappropriation); by implication the stamp impressed (as a mark of privacy, or genuineness).

Sphragizō G4972 from G4973; to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation (literally or figuratively); by implication to keep secret, to attest

Charaktēr is related to charagma (an etching or scratch or a slave’s brand), in that charaktēr translates to the engraving tool used to do the etching. However the Koine Greek use of the word charaktēr was in the way that it came to be eventually translated to the anglicized homonym that we use today, “character”. Charagma, however, leaves a very evil connotation, as in the scriptures its most common use was for the “markG5480 of the Beast”. But, charaktēr leaves a holy connotation in the Bible, as its only use was the divine character of Christ, who was in “the express imageG5481” of the Father’s] person or character. The holy character of Christ must be impressed upon our hearts and consciences. This is where the sealing comes into the picture. The heart and conscience of Jesus was very soft and impressionable toward His Father. Never has there been one who more loved the holy things of God than did Christ who dwelled in His bosom. “Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him” (Prov. 8:30). The Son was sealed from the days of eternity, “for Him hath God the Father sealed.” (John 6:27).

As the Son of man, Jesus was the replacement for Adam, the first human son of God and patriarch of humanity. Adam was sealed until he defected to Satan. Adam was a living soul, a walking, talking, rejoicing beloved of God. Jesus was the same, “for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.” (John 3:34). And all will know the same sealing who will open their heart to God through His perfect Representative, Jesus Christ. “In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13). “For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare Thy name unto My brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee. And again, I will put My trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given Me.” (Heb. 2:11-13).

But, how do we open up to God? How do we surrender our hearts? How can we escape the deceptions of Satan who leads the whole world to believe that he is God, which we see happening today?

“And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?...
And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.…
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:3,4,6,8).

“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Rev. 13:7) Through his delusions, “they shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor Me.” (John 16:2,3).

“The only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3) are known by Their method of salvation, which differs widely from the blasphemous “God” and his way of salvation. God and Christ can use the time/space continuum in which to exist, but They don’t have to. So They don’t limit Themselves to reach us through certain places or object or times. They want to touch us and to bring us into Their bosom, but They can only accept holy, humbled hearts. Therefore, they must humble our hearts and then make us holy.

Satan and his demons also seek to make contact with us, but he does not desire holy, humbled hearts. From his perspective, every heart humbled and made holy must forever be banished from his earthly kingdom. Therefore, he has devised his spiritual kingdom to forever remain connected with objects and places and special events in the cosmos to create his opening for their possession.

Broaches, and miniature images, “golden emerods, and … golden mice, images of … emerods, and images of … mice that mar the land” (1Sam. 6:4,5), full sized idols, huge stones and mountains “high places, and … images” (Lev. 26:30) that are supposed to act as hyper-sensitive lightning rods for spiritual power from the Most High. Astronomical events, such as eclipses, planet alignments, the movements of planets, moon phases and positioning of the Sun in its annual risings and settings along the horizon, are also used by Satan to proclaim the special manifestation of supernatural reconciliation between God and man. Come to the humanity wide gathering “and [we] shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.” (1Sam. 6:5).

But not through those means alone does the God of the Bible, the only true God, meet with His people. He normally uses not the time/space continuum, but a condition of the soul, a heart humbled in repentance. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” (Ps. 51:17).

“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (Ps. 34:18).

“For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.” (Isa. 66:2).

“And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.” (1Sam. 10:26).

“But He that entereth in by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep. To Him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear His voice: and He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice.” (John 10:2-4).

“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
“ (Luke 15:4-7). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [Jesus Christ] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.
For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid Me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.
I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.
I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him.
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” (Isa. 57:15-21).

The same principle Jesus said will determine the day of His coming.
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13:32). The time for the Day of Judgment is not determined by a certain day or deadline date. That date is the Father’s decision based on His investigative judgment. The Father decides the day at the time that He has a group that is sealed and able to stand in His presence. It won’t be determined until His Son’s heavenly ministry, as His children’s High Priest has perfectly reproduced His character in them.

Therefore, Jesus’ character, His tender heart, His unflinching loyalty to His Father’s Law and government, reconciles the heart of God to the rebellious descendants of Adam. A humbled heart submissive to the revealed will of God creates the opening for heaven to be poured into the needy human soul. The doing of righteousness, the effect that mercy has on the receiver as well as on the giver of mercy, is the lightning rod that moves the Most High. Going to the cross and beholding the soul agony of the “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8) is what Cain should have done, which would have prevented accumulation of the anxiety of a long-term, unreconciled heart and would have kept him from becoming the world’s first murderer. Christ’s blessedness comes with giving instead of receiving, ministering and giving the life for the ransom of others rather than being ministered to; His Spirit of grace comes when remembering the widows and the fatherless, having bowels and mercies; His comfort from looking “not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil. 2:4), being doers of the work and not hearers only in the school of Christ. Otherwise, God and His blessed, promised Spirit, “the Desire of all nation” (Hag. 2:7), remains beyond our possession.

“Many a portion of Scripture which learned men pronounce a mystery, or pass over as unimportant, is full of comfort and instruction to him who has been taught in the school of Christ. One reason why many theologians have no clearer understanding of God’s word is, they close their eyes to truths which they do not wish to practice. As understanding of Bible truth depends not so much on the power of intellect brought to the search as on the singleness of purpose, the earnest longing after righteousness.” Great Controversy, p. 599.

No spiritualistic imposture will ever lead to that greatest of all boons to the human race—atonement with the great Creator. If we will not be led to repentance, if we don’t receive a knowledge of the truth in the love of it, then we are withholden from His longed for water of life, and the incomprehensible rest and health that come with it.


“If [we] know these things, happy are [we] if [we] do them.” (John 13:17).