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The Mind of Christ: Part I

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The Mind of Christ: Table of Contents

I. Introduction: The Mind of Christ[
**]II. As A Child: Coming to Christ As a Child[
**]III. Surrender and Self-Less-Ness[
**]IV. Surrender and Self-Less-Ness II[
**]V. Surrender and Selflessness III[
**]VI. Surrender and Dying to Self[
**]VII. Mind of Christ: Belief[
**]VIII. The Mind of Christ: Dying to and Yielding Self[
**]IX. The Mind of Christ: First and Last[
**]X. Time and the Mind of Christ

The Mind of Christ

October 24th, 2005

I am beginning this new blog in order to express in an ordered fashion, what I have learned about the “Mind of Christ”. I would not ever claim ‘expertise’, anyone would be foolish to do this, but I have learned a few things over 20 years, which may perhaps build up new believers and those farther along.

I obtained my doctorate in Psychology in 1981 from the University of Florida in Psychology, specializing in “Personality Psychology” [it is hardly called that any more], and while I was occasionally teased in graduate school about having too many interests, my specializations were in Thanatological issues including Mourning and Bereavement, Death Anxiety, and other aspects of death and dying. Later my interests developed into Holocaust, or Shoah Studies, especially studies of the Church and Faith in the Shoah. Also, though, before entering mostly into thanatological issues, I studied Self-Concept and Definition, Depersonalization phenomena in normals, and related concepts on what people mean when they say ‘Self’. If I was to be asked now, I would reply, there are as many definitions as there are people asked.

The above description is not written at all to impress, but to show that the first part of my adult life and much of my professional career was spent studying the world’s way of thinking. I was either trained or had interests in psychology and deviant behavior, Existential and ‘humanistic’ psychology and other branches of philsophy, psychology and ethical considerations. In short, I was fairly well introduced into the way the world thinks, or what I will call in this blog ‘natural thinking’. The Mind of Man. Some 30 years after entering college for the first time, our understanding of the person remains a little chaotic, a little divisive and misunderstood. It also changes constantly.

The Revelation of a Different Way of thinking
After having taught at several Universities for the first few years of my career, I became a Christian: a miracle only God could produce, a Psychologist becoming a Believer! I was once told by a faculty coordinator at a large Northern U that of all the faculty who attended Campus Crusade’s bible studies, the faculty least represented was that of Psychology Departments. I suspect this is because they are not predisposed to ‘faith’ having been trained for years to assess every thought and possibility, and I have never seen research psychologists entertain a concept such as love, fear, hate etc without first ‘operationalizing’ it or giving it a discreet number of defining terms and criteria. The Well-Known Psychologist Rollo May tells the story of a psychologist who gets to heaven, and attempts to read his CV [resume] and show copies of published articles as to why he should get into heaven. St. Peter listens carefully, and then informs him, that none of that had anything to do with getting into heaven. The Psychologist asks the reason for his refusal, his great sin, and he is told ‘nimis simplicandum’—-he is guilty of taking a valuable creation and reducing it to its simplist level: love becomes ‘attachment behaviors’, nobility becomes a self-satisfying altruism, and so on. But that, is the Mind of Man.

The Mind of Christ

There are a few scriptures we hear often if we stay in the Word, though, which call us to a different ‘mind’—-the mind of Christ. Says one passage in Corinthians

“ For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1Corinthians 2:16”

It is clear that when we come to Christ, and are privileged to the adoption in the Holy Spirit, that our walk with our Redeemer and Messiah is not to stop there. Even before Heaven, even before the Rapture, there is to be a transformation in the way we live and think. We leave behind the old ways, and come to the New Life which we are gifted with. This entails a change of heart and thinking

The strength to do that does not come through our own intuition or adaption of old ideas, it comes through the revelation God gives us through the Word and the Holy Spirit. There is also a process in shaping and changing our minds to agree with the Mind of God, the Mind of Christ. It is not as too many people suppose just mean you change political parties or positions, or start liking Christian music instead of pop, etc, it is a whole way of life. He alone is the instrument of that change, although we often choose to get in the way.

Says another passage:

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel- Phl 1:27

The Apostle Paul is one of the most notable examples of this change to the Mind of Christ which took place beginning on the Damascus road. He is on his way to persecute and arrest, perhaps even kill the new Christians [little christs], when the Lord appears to him, knocking him from his horse, crying ‘Saul, saul, why persecutest thou me?” Even in this small beginning, we see a difference between the mind of Christ and the mind of man: if someone was on the way to hurt our loved ones, we would immediately react with violent opposition: but God sees the Paul who will be: the great champion of the faith, who will teach his people from his epistles for the next 2000 years.

More than that, the Rabbi Paul was in training for a position of leadership in Israel, having been brought up at the “feet of Gamaliel”.

I am verily a man [which am] a Jew, born in Tarsus, [a city] in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, [and] taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. Acts 22:3

He has obtained, or at least been very schooled in the ‘mind of man’, or ‘the Natural Mind’: he has studied even the scriptures from early in the way prescribed, with the theories and commentaries of men, and their methods and theologies. His first encounter with Christ leaves him somewhat bewildered, and he is shown that he is blind to the ways of God: but rather than condemning Paul, he begins with the first lesson: coming as a Child to a loving Father. This arrogant young ‘theologian’ who would probably have sat on or even led the Sanhedrin, confronts the God of Heaven, instead of the God of men’s thinking and dogma. Do not consider this a ‘Jewish’ issue: there are just as many Churchgoers, who know the Word, the hymns, and who even have degrees in Divinity, who have met God only in the Natural Mind. By the time God has finished his re-education which appears to last even 14 years,

Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with [me] also. Galatians 2:1

In my own experience, I learned this early in my walk, as God called me out of everything I had known and trained for: it did not seem ‘logical’: it did not seem like God would have done that, so for 2 or 3 years after I became a Christian, I danced first this way, then that, and did not understand why He did not just ‘stamp with approval’ what I was already doing. After years, though circumstances and trials have been sometimes overwhelming, partly through persecution and partly through a lack of total obedience, I have come to understand that His purposes and ours do not match in rank order: He was more interested in preparing me to have His mind, His Life, and to be fit to live in His presence in Eternity than momentary comfort. At the time I was doing ‘a good work’: working with families experiencing Perinatal Death, but even then, my mind had so formed in Psychological thinking and natural logic, that had I continued, I would have done it the world’s way, and probably soon fell out of a relationship with Him. As one of the scriptures above notes, a conversation in the Gospel of Christ: the hymn ‘Away in the Manger’ by Martin Luther has a last line which in the original reads,

“fit us for Heaven to live with you there”.

There is no doubt that Salvation is not EARNED, it is a gift from God: this is the core of the Gospel replete in the Old and New Testament, but after we are given this gift, He begins the arduous task in our life of making us ready to be in His Presence: a two year old, if he remains with the manners of a two year old, would find an uncomfortable situation at a State Dinner!!!

We are taught often about the change of life and heart, and these are critical: Paul acknowledges that above every gift of ‘power’ and discernment is Love: we are nothing without that. However even the Love of God must be transformed in our thinking: our paltry concepts of love in the flesh or carnal mind are of no value: our vision, our feelings, our willingness to surrender, our way of looking at the LORD and His Word and other issues necessitate His transforming power in our lives. Sometimes that takes years.

With each entry in this blog, a different and fundamental issue of the ‘Mind of Christ’ will be examined: all will be found tied entirely to His Word. In the Next Blog, we will look at ‘Coming to the LORD as a Child’.

Posted by Elizabeth Kirkley Best at 11/17/2005 12:40:00 AM No comments:

Elizabeth Kirkley Best

Psa 84:10 For a day in thy courts [is] better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” … Born Mineral Wells, TX taught at UF, UNF, NEOU Coll of Medicine, and other colleges and one seminary. Web Director of Shoaheducation.com, Shoahrose.com and www.warsofisrael.com. Ministry site: www.judahsglory.com “Balladry” (balladsandpoems.blogspot.com) and all materials included within unless otherwise noted is copyrighted by Elizabeth Kirkley Best, PhD. © 2005 Elizabeth Kirkley Best, All Rights Reserved

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“The Mind of Christ (Healing of Christ)” (healingofchrist.blogspot.com) and all materials included within unless otherwise noted is copyrighted by Elizabeth Kirkley Best, PhD. ©2005-2012 Elizabeth Kirkley Best, All Rights Reserved

As a Child

October 25th, 2005

“ And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3”

When we have only the natural mind, we are blind to the most critical ways and nature of God. It took the blinding light of Glory for Paul to come to terms that for all his KNOWLEDGE, he was without understanding. He was daily in the Word, the Torah—-he had the best teaching of men on earth at the time, he participated from what can be read daily in the synagogue or Temple and in his own words, was zealous. There was a ‘crossing over’ though, that he had missed, without which one ‘knows’ about God, maybe even with expertise, whatever that is, but does not walk with God in fullness.

When I first came to the LORD [or vice versa], it did not happen in a blinding light. I was a University professor at a medical school at the time, and had no real thoughts for God. Raised Catholic and attending church often as a young person [often means as many times as a Baptist]; at home we had tapestries of Jesus on the wall, my mother painted a few religious pictures, and there were pictures of Mary, the sacred heart, crucifixes, and other religious paraphenalia. I was taught mostly in the ordinances of the Church, only secondarily in the Bible, and that was usually sections out of a missal, with latin or other readings until Vatican II changed everything and we could sing folk music at Mass. By 16, I felt I had no need for religion or church, and spent years floundering with different philosophical perspectives, particularly humanism and existentialism. In college most of us were at best ‘agnostic’ or atheist, or more realistically young and busy with other things. The first time I remember considering whether there really was some kind of God as an adult was when I was driving through the hills of North Carolina, and overcome with the beauty, just began to at least question whether there really was a God. Subsequently after several years of trials, and while successful on a professional level, life had become tough as it does for many: I was a single parent having suffered a divorce, had a child with juvenile diabetes and a toddler, an oppressive situation at work, new mortgage and so on. One afternoon, while my son took a nap and my daughter was still at public school, I picked up a Bible which had been given to her and which had since fallen in the washer, and began to peel apart the pages, serendipitously. I began reading the book of Proverbs, which I realized later was a providential place to start for a wondering psychologist, and I began to think that just perhaps there was more wisdom to the ‘way people are’ than what is found in psychology alone.

Not long after, I began talking to some co-workers who were Christians, who suggested some readings, but I just kept reading. This lengthy preface leads to the passage that convicted me that the Word was real, God was real, Jesus was real and if that was true than so was everything else He spoke of. The passage was:

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:14-18

The other passage which strongly convicted me was the passage at the beginning of this blog:
[“ And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3
]

The first overwhelmed me, because after much reading, I realized that was the choice, the choice every living person must make, whether a youth or a university professor, whether an urbanite or a tribesmen, all were counted alike in that choice, “Whom say ye that I AM?” Jesus does not leave many choices. If He was the Jewish Messiah, then everything else was true, and if not then all ‘truths’ are as good as another. But he was seen calming the winds and waves, healing the sick, feeding massive crowds from hardly anything at all, raising the dead: all this was seen not just by his own, but by soldiers from Rome and Pharisees and Saduccees who had no vested interest in defending him, in fact the opposite. But after the discussion about who others said he was, what King herod had said, or speculation among the clergy or prophets, His question is directed at Peter Whom say YE that I AM? [The I AM always finds a way to introduce himself in important situations]. And the reply? Seem not remarkable? It was the foundation of the house He would build. The Jewish fisherman declares Him the Messiah, the Son the Living God. One statement setting sail to 2000 years of faith, and the question repeated billions of times.

But what Jesus says next is also remarkable: He lets Peter [Simon} know that he did not receive that thought of his own ability or reasoning, but that it was REVEALED to him by His Father in Heaven. This was DIVINE knowledge and the beginning of a new mind. It was also the one point of faith that caused Jesus to give Simon Peter the keys to the Kingdom, and the point of faith upon which His Kingdom would stand.

AS A CHILD
The Second Passage is the critical passage to understanding how anyone wrestling with belief comes to the LORD at all in these days when the world hates faith and tries to destroy it: conversion is not coming up to an altar and signing a pledge card, or kneeling at one and receiving bread, or any of the other things one sees readily, but COMING AS A CHILD.
A Child trusts a parent: one has to trust the one who saves. Further, especially among bright and academic people, the idea of ‘becoming like a child’ is not enticing, many consider it the putting away of reason. But it is not putting away reason, only exchanging it for divine reason. One has to let go of pre-conceived notions of the ‘way the world is’ in order to be taught of God. When one can look and trust, deciding what really happened on that dark afternoon on Golgotha that changed the world, then one enters life: life that will last.

It was terribly difficult for me to surrender to that kind of trust and belief: I was a researcher—-I wanted evidence. But Salvation or the healing of man to God, the saving for Eternal Life from everlasting suffering, and the atonement for ALL sin and separation from God that we might continue even after death in His presence: this is the high calling: but we have to trust in the very same manner as a child trusts his mother or father. When you do, you will find the rest to be true and worth suffering and dying for.

Spurgeon, the great London preacher constantly preached his theme: “Look and Believe”. Pascal the great philosopher/mathematician/scientist had a childlike trusting faith in Jesus with no apologies. The list of scientists, even pivotal ones such as Pasteur and Fahrenheit and others, learned to believe as children, even beyond the gift of Salvation to the 6 day creation. No doctrinal matter is one of human reason and ‘convincing’: human reason cannot explain God. The first and most critical basis for coming to the Messiah that saves, that has already saved, is to enter in at the door, and become as a child: not exchanging human reason for stupidity or blind leaps, but for the wisdom of God. This is the foundational principle of the Mind of Christ.

Surrender & Self-Less-Ness

October 27th, 2005

I spent most of my professional years in my career study ‘The Self’. Now, after almost 30 years since I first started, I have no more idea what that is than any one else who has studied the concept. It is the proverbial blind men and the elephant, all see it for the part in vision and all declare, ‘there, that is an elephant!’. Popular ideas though on afternoon talk shows and women’s magazines concentrate on ‘self-esteem’ , almost never defining it or realizing that recent research shows that the more of ‘it’ one has, the less becoming a person they will be towards others! Other studies look at body image, body boundaries, self-definition, and a whole bevy of terms which would warm only the heart of William James who laid the foundation of that impending ziggurat.

That ziggurat, not unlike the one built at Babel, amounted to the same end and purpose: man seeking divinity for himself, to ‘work’ his way to the heavens, and the end of that way: chaos and confusion.

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.Genesis 11:9

That scattering is well known: if we travel outside of the ‘known’ we often cannot communicate, we have suffered confusion since failing to be the proverbial ‘family of man’ and often doing things very differently from one another. We have now gone so far as to reap the same confusion in the House of God: the number of bible ‘translations’ or paraphrases grows daily, doctrine doesn’t really matter, and everyone is most interested not in the love and excellence of Jesus but in what they can get for themselves.

One of the great distinctions in the Mind of Christ vs the mind of man, is that towards the self. Self may also be roughly equated with ‘soul’: the Greek word ‘psyche’ refers to the soul based upon Greek legend, and though it would cause Psychologists to shudder, psychology is more rightfully the ‘study of the soul’ than the less spiritual rendering ‘self’.

There is a real reason that surrender to God and dying to self go together. One great tenet of coming to the ‘mind of Christ’ is that God’s ways are not our ways: our human logic cannot see what God can see. We are limited by time, space and a brief life span. He sees all that has been and will be. When we are filled with our selves, we choose the ways we know and have learned, using human logic and usually only thinking a step ahead. In the fullness of the natural mind, we only consider what is seen, felt, and experienced. We might go by more nebulous motivations such as ‘intuition’ or cause, but we still tie these to the pragmatic experience of “being-in-the-world”. We do not look for the ‘evidence of things not seen as faith is described. We are self-guided, self-motivated, and we feel very comfortable in the things and prompts of the world in decision making without feeling the need for divine guidance.

The Maze

It is not unlike a person placed in a complex labyrinth or maze, with multiple twists and turns, and danger or reward based upon the turns. There is the one who made us, who made what the maze is made of, who stands above and sees every turn and every outcome. The man down in the maze sees only the wall and an aisle before him: on his own he is likely to be devoured by the maze. But if he listens to He who stands above it, deciding the turns not on logic, or what looks more pleasant, but on trusting the one who really sees, he will successfully navigate to the end.

The Emptying of Self

This may all seem to not be directly related to surrender and selflessness but it is directly related. Surrender is the relinquishing to God a choice that is ours in the knowledge that he is omnipotent and omniscient.

It is a willing decision on our part to give in and give up to God what is rightfully his: our lives and path.

Concurrently, Selflessness, and the ‘dying to self’ which is spoken of in scripture, is not as many erroneously presume a hating of the self or degrading of the self: both of those involve a great deal of self-focus and self-consummation. Some psychologists fear that the dying to self taught in the Bible would lead to low ‘self-esteem ‘ or depression, but their natural minds do not comprehend the difference between negatively valuing the ‘Self’ and letting go of the self that Christ may live through us.

What a difference!!! The surrender of ‘self’ and the ‘dying’ and putting away of self-full-ness actually can bring joy and not despair and depression in the worst trials we face. In depression, or what clinicians call clinical depression, rather than dying to self, persons become obsessed with self, their focus in entirely inward: no one can tell them what to do, to them there is no remedy, they are bad, evil, horrible, etc and they are in despair. Only the pain differentiates them from the egoist. Those filled with ‘pride’ and what we call ‘self-esteem’ do not hurt like the depressed person but both are utterly focused on the self: one loves it , one hates it, both are self-occupied.

Interesting, while the media and education ran with the concept of self-esteem years ago before researchers would have ever given a green light, the psychological research community found it much more complex a topic, and years have been spent even trying to come up with a common operational definition. “Self-esteem’ like IQ often has a circular definition: it is what self-esteem measures test. A more recent study in fact pointed to increased levels of ‘self-esteem’ as being related to callousness towards others and aggressiveness. For all the years in education of trying to instill ‘self-esteem’ over other character values and valuing of others, we may have done the opposite of producing healthy individuals for a healthy society, but rather a generation of self-absorbed persons with small concern for others and a new moral clime
determined entirely on self-edification over all other concerns.

Dying to Self
The natural mind then, tends easily and immediately towards an over-concern with the Self, for the good or bad. But Jesus taught a very different way: not hating or loving the self, in fact scriptures teach

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:Eph 5:29

Dying to self is not even ‘getting rid of the self’, for it is part of the nature God gave us, but of making it of no importance, allowing Christ to live through us the Life He purchased for us on the Cross: the indwelling of Christ, Christ within us, is the normal experience of the Christian, and the more we relinquish to Him our lives and His rightful place in our lives, the more we experience joy, peace, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the power of God and a ‘right-ness’ of the way of God. We reap through dying to self, the abundant life, not depression and despair.

This does not mean that the Christian will not experience pain, sorrow, and even for moments or a season despair: we are involved in a horrible warfare, Christ ever for us seeks to keep us in His Way, producing fruit. The World and the adversary of our souls, tries with fervent pride to undo all that God has done: his goals are strife, division, unbelief, horror and the demolishing our faith and life. When all that hits hard, we want to blame God, when we should be attributing those despairing events to the devil and the nature of the world. When we blame God, we misunderstand often in our natural minds, the nature of the battle we are in.

How do we ‘die to self’? Do we muster it up? take classes? buy a book on ‘how to die to self’? No, none of this would work for more than momentary practices. Dying to self for the Christian becomes both a single choice for one event, and a way of life. I knew a man once who drove a truck for a living, who had to make the decision between a well-paid job which would keep him away from home much of the time, or a cut in pay for a local company which would give him ample family time, but cause the family to struggle financially. The natural mind and most Christians today, would immediately argue that the family needed the finances, but God sees children needing a parent, a worker needing rest and time with God, a mind set not on money and self-determination but on trust. Now not the same choice is ‘right’ in every circumstance, but the note here is not on ‘self-denial’ or purposely making your life difficult to be ‘spiritual’ but on making your decisions in relationship to God with a transformed mind instead of the natural one.

Vocation is not the only choice in which we must die to self and allow God to work through us: the 'Dying to Self' in scriptures affects every life choice such as marriage, childen, moves, what we see or read, wear, etc down to the small obediences which God calls us to that may lead to grand works of God. Philip was in the middle of a grand crusade with many saved souls when God instructed him to go into the middle of the desert and just stand there: nobody around, nothing to do, no crowd, ---but within a short time, the Ethiopian Eunuch, the attendant to Queen Candace passes by, and in his discussion with Philip, is born again, from above, and goes on to bring the gospel to Ethiopia and then Northern Africa: all because Philip did not concern himself with whether the call of God made 'common sense' to him: he died to his self will and reasoning, and divine reason wrought a work so great it has lasted till today as a testimony of faith.

My daughter once pointed out that the first Martyr of Acts, Stephen, unlike the other Apostles was appointed to take care of the needs of widows. The other apostles were concerned that they should not be about ‘waiting on tables’, but Stephen, rather than taking his place in the pulpit, gave himself to fulfilling a need in the Church that was in Christ’s heart: he put aside his ‘self-desire’, even a good one of taking a higher place in the Church and preaching, and instead went to the forgotten and alone, and made sure that elderly women were cared for. The result? Not only did the need get met, but Stephen, in the end of his life, stoned to death by religionists of his own kind, preaches a sermon that has lasted 2000 years, converting many to the household of God. Stephen did the ‘illogical’ thing and let Christ make the decision: in the end both his own desire and the needs of the Church were fulfilled in a great work of God.

We need to learn to first identify our self will, self-motivations, and examine in any choice whether we want most the feeding of the flesh or spirit. Tithing is an example. Sometimes when we
‘save’ tithe and it build up, for awhile, we may be tempted to say, well, there is no food in the kitchen, or we have to pay the electric bill, maybe we can just ‘owe’ God. That is adhering to natural reasoning, fear of God not providing or suffering, and self-full-ness: we make the decision to hold back based upon our wanting to do things in a way we decide and are comfortable with. All of us however have heard countless stories of believers who made the plunge, paid the tithe, and ended up with more than they could have asked or expected. Before we pay a tithe when there are bills, it looks like jumping off a cliff, and many fail, choosing our ways instead of God’s. But when we die to self, becoming willing to suffer even loss, then we shortly afterwards see the abundance of faith, of our walk with a Savior who is trying not to punish us or try us beyond what we are able, but to lead us into a deep trust. The more of His life we allow, the more we ‘get out of the way’ and allow Him to live through us, the more we see the wonder of God, joy and the more faith is increased for the next trial.

Loving Not Their Lives

In the endtimes, in Revelation is described the key to success in walking with the LORD: it is not money, nor fame, nor honor: it is the overcoming of the corruption, sadness and chaos of the world, by fighting the divine battle, even unto the death: His way, and not ours. Most of us are not there yet: we are able to die to the self for moments, but sometimes in a mundane world, heaven seems nebulous and far off, and we lose the joy of our salvation. The consummation of ‘dying to self’ and surrender, though come in walking forward, even in the worst and most threatening battle, as scriptures denote:
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.Rev 12:11

There are the three things that cause victorious Christianity:

1-The Blood of the Lamb: it is our safety, healing and trust and life[
**][* 2-The Word of their Testimony ---the Word of God and the Testimony of a life as a written Epistle *][
**]and[
**]3-LOVING NOT THEIR LIVES UNTO DEATH—that is the song of martyrs, God’s war heroes.

His Life, and not ours: that is what we promised. When Peter gave up and went back to fishing because the Divine became too much to handle, Jesus appear on a work-a-day beach, cooking fish for breakfast, extending and reminding of the great calling: Peter, do you love me? Well Peter, like most of us kept saying yes, but finally admits his frailty: instead of rebuking him as Jesus once did, He affirms him in his call:“Feed My Sheep”, Feed My Lambs”. He did not talk to Peter about 401k benefits, his children’s college fund, or whether he would ever be given even a change of clothing: Jesus simply commissioned him. The Mind of Christ.

The great tragedy of our modern version of Christianity, is that the natural or world’s view of man has far taken over the the true Gospel concept of self or soul: that while it identifies us to ourselves and others, and provides a sort of ‘glue’ across time to keep stability in our lives, it is the [putting away of self
**], the dying to self, and surrender to God’s way and not ours, which brings the hallmark of the Gospel: God’s ways are far above ours, and bountifully worth knowing.

Surrender & Dying to Self

November 1st, 2005

Continuing, we find that the Mind of Christ has at it’s core, the relinquishment of self: not the enthronement or building of self-concern and fulfillment, and conversely, not the degradation of self, or despondency or hatred, but RELINQUISHMENT—-that is the ‘dying to self’ spoken of in scripture.

The first point of a new life in mind occurs at Golgotha: each person brought to Life in Christ begins at Golgotha: an emptying sky turned black, a Messiah-King whose followers thought would bring deliverance, but instead was for the moment, dying on a cross: an unthinkable death for a King of Israel. His suffering was immense, his countenance torn and beaten, and yet in all the scourging they failed to break a bone of the Lamb for sacrifice.

After healings, commanding the elements, raising four persons from the dead, and the Words of Life which had been lost in Israel, Roman soldiers treated him to the death of a rebel slave: an impalement upon a cross for the great crime of being the King of Heaven: enough to see, enough to fear, and enough to violently turn on. Most on that dreadful afternoon could only see the death of a Redeemer ,only a suffering soul, even though He had repeatedly told them of his course and purpose. Unbelief looking towards belief starts here.

Belief is different than a mere ‘cognition’ or knowledge or ‘acknowledgement’ of a fact or observation.

Mind of Christ, Surrender & Belief

November 15th, 2005

[For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. J0hn 3:16-17]

Last time we noted that belief, the kind Christ forms in our hearts soul and spirit is intrinsically different than mere consent. In the New Testament it is noted that “even the demons believe and tremble”: most people today make one of two errors: they either believe that a mere ‘consent’ to the truth, or agreement is real belief, or they required belief plus something else.

Consent vs Belief

To truly BELIEVE, in the sense of saving faith, in the sense of entering into relationship with God, requires trust, love, and a depth of spirit and commitment. We used to play a game as children where someone would stand behind another person and ‘dare’ them to fall backwards. Some would and some wouldn’t: depending on the person behind them, and the degree to which they believed they would truly ‘catch’ them. And true to human form, being kids, sometimes the one behind would step back and let them fall, to a mildly cruel laughter. The belief Jesus requires of us though is that: without any props, without any rails, without knowing what will happen, to lean in and trust Him completely.

Consent on the other hand, is far too often today what others mistake for saving faith. Many go to the altar of a local Church, and when a call to Salvation is made, they go to the altar, agreeing with what the preacher has said, and figure they better ‘get in on eternal life’ and go to heaven when they die. It has frequently been compared to buying fire insurance. “Yes, I believe that Jesus is Lord, that He died to save us, and that that means we go to Heaven when we die.” That sounds good but more than any other religious deception it is the most dangerous: be careful to understand: that statement is absolutely TRUE, but the deception lies in the heart and mind: how much do we REALLY believe it?
It has become popular today to be a ‘born-again’ Christian: seems everybody thinks they are anyway. But most continue after acquiescing to lead the same life as everyone else out in the world. They may go to church more often and read the Bible a little, but they conduct business the same, watch the same things, talk in the same way etc. I am not insinuating that certain ‘works’ go along with belief: they do not: Christ has paid the entire price on Golgotha: we have nothing to add.
But simple agreement continues on as if salvation had never occurred. Real BELIEF enters into relationship, and begins from the moment the Holy spirit comes to indwell the believer to walk in ‘the newness of Life’.
This is the ‘back to Antioch’ stuff: to really believe and not just say it, or consent.

On Golgotha, a divine event so monumental occurred that the course of all things were changed forever. FOREVER. Our sins were literally removed as if they had never been: we no longer had to be ‘good’, we couldn’t: we had instead to believe, trust, love and not let go. When this happens, and one realizes what a great release that is: that our accountability for our own errors, horror and sin have been forgiven and not charged to our account, then one experiences a divine relief, a burden of life lifts; you do not have to be ‘perfect’ anymore, or fit anyone’s expectations or opinions, you do not have to try to do right: right is given in perfection. One of the things that changes then or shortly after is that one realizes that there are no persons better than any others: we share the dust at the foot of the Cross. When speaking of race, I told my children when they were little that God sees one color: red. A Christian will understand what I mean. He sees us through the blood of His Son: we were bought at that cost: all colors. Oddly, it does not mean that you automatically believe that interracial marriage is all right, or that you don’t notice certain culture differences, etc, but that the most genuine tolerance in the world occurs: you come to understand what God means by no respect of persons. How could one consider one person above or below another? How could one use another person or their works or goods without right? With what we have been given? With what we did not deserve? Its best not to get too far from the Cross: its best to stay in sight of that blood: no one’s ‘cells’ or ‘status’ in life matters to Christ: life matters to Christ. He would have ALL. That does not mean there are not those who will horrify you in life, who will harm you beyond all expectation: people become dangerous without Christ: they become hurtful. But Christ’s tolerance comes after the utter trust and belief in the atonement and sacrifice He made there: in the Blood. A Sacrifice promised since the beginning, so dynamic, complete, perfect and excellent that it overwhelms the believer forever, and effects a real change forever. It takes a leaning in and leaning on: it takes trust and real love and perseverance: it takes more than a nod that that is ‘probably what happened.’ Golgotha changes the heart and the Mind completely. The World is no longer the same.

Belief plus Anything.

The second and greatest error made in Christianity today is that once we come to the Cross that we have anything to add. We do not. What could a created person do which would add to what their creator could do? How perfect could your gift, or behavior or thinking or changing be? A thousand rules followed still do not add a speck to Salvation wrought by God who knew it would take a divine act not a human one. This is the error which Paul had to address in the Jewish community: they kept accusing him of teaching that we could just go on sinning and sinning and that since Christ had paid it all, it was all right. His pronounced remark was ‘God Forbid’! Now, if you actually got down to ‘doing anything’ and counting on grace to cover it, you are already exhibiting a disregard and sincere hatred of the Gospel. A real believer coming to Christ can’t stand the idea of causing harm to the Savior or one of His, and can’t stand to be apart from Him. A Taste of the divine makes all the streams of earth sour and bitter. You run to the opposite: to perfect love and peace, to the face of the Bridegroom. Grace however, at the same time, is THAT BIG!!!! Martin Luther once said, “ If you are going to sin, sin boldly. He did not mean people ought to sin: he meant that Grace is so profound, so wide and so eternal, that even in the act of running away from God He will take it and turn it to the believer’s benefit and the benefit of His Way. (Rms 8:28) On the other hand, too many today, use Grace lightly as a ‘do not go to jail’ monopoly card: that is critically wrong too. In the old Testament, God condemns an act of Israel as doing every cruel thing to the weak vulnerable, women and children and the poor and then crying ‘Grace, Grace, Grace’. There is still a place of God’s correction, even severe trials that take you apart, but it does not damage the gift that God gives in Salvation to the true believer. We do not however want to walk that way and here is why: we will probably not damage God’s will in the end, Grace will see to it; but we will find the walk far harder than we ever imagined. Far harder.

Jonah could have obeyed God immediately, but his disgust for his enemy who had brutalized Israel and those he loved made him run to Tarshish, the city of wealth. He never arrived and God used his Aliyah to turn him and the nation Nineveh around, but before it was over: well, we know the story.

The point is this: real belief is an intense relationship which causes obedience and surrender: our minds and hearts are changed. That is the mind of Christ. We do not add to the work of Christ by living perfectly, nor frustrate it by running away: it is His Work, and this tenet of the Mind of Christ must be gotten ahold of, to proceed in the walk. We most often though end up wanting to do well, live holy and ‘do right’ because we LOVE HIM: NOT BECAUSE WE HAVE TO.

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Dying to and Yielding Self: the Mind of Christ

November 18th, 2005

In looking at surrender, and how the Mind of Christ differs from the natural mind, one must consider what is meant by dying to self or similar concepts. Many preachers have spoken on this topic since the beginning: but the truth is, we learn to be ourselves, please ourselves, feed and edify our ‘selves’ long before we ever consider that self could be getting in the way of what most people really covet without knowing it: peace and rest. And joy.

I have met over 20 years alot of restless, discontented people in Church.

They read the Bible, go 2 or 3 times a week, some memorize scripture, and they say and do all the ‘right’ things: they do not drink or smoke, or dance (not on purpose anyway), or a myriad of other things. Many would say they were ‘happy’ which they define individually: but they are not at rest, and not at peace.

The reason very often if not most often, is that they have not relinquished to God what is His, and have not put self aside so that God may work through them: not only to benefit them, but other believers and unbelievers as well. While the point has been mentioned before, it is critical to mention again that ‘dying’ to self is not the same as ‘hating’ or ‘despising’ self. Those activities require an enormous amount of energy, and involve an intense focus on the self. Dying to Self though, requires a relinquishment: not what I want; what HE wants, not what I think, what HE thinks; not where I would go; where HE would go. Real ‘self-less-ness’ though is not just gritting your teeth and saying, “All right, go ahead God, get it over with!”. Real relinquishment of the self is “trusting an all-knowing God with an uncertain future”, and falling backwards into HIS arms.

There is a passage in scripture that applies to another concept, worry, which also has an important principle. At one point, as the disciples speak with Jesus, Jesus says the following:

Mat 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Mat 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
or
Mat 10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
Mar 13:11 But when they shall lead [you], and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

or
Mat 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof.
Luk 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and [unto] magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
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When Jesus teaches His disciples how to respond to the great grand stressful and frightening moments of life, he doesn’t say, stay up for three nights, write down all your thoughts, make two columns…or meditate day or night, or write out your sermon ahead of time….Jesus says “TAKE NO THOUGHT”. This runs counter to our intuition and to our carnal nature. We have been taught all our lives to ‘be prepared’.

When I was a graduate student being questioned by my committee on my doctoral dissertation, I worried sick, prepared for close to two years, poured over details, memorized facts, portions of articles methods, etc.

Even then, like everyone else, I was nervous as could be, not sure I could face every question. But exams, quals, defenses and similar things are things of the flesh. We fill our minds with all the things that could be on the test, could happen or not happen, whether so and so will ‘like’ us or not, whether we will ‘pass’. WE TAKE THOUGHT for those things: great thought: those thoughts absorb us.

When Jesus said “TAKE NO THOUGHT”, He wanted His disciples to see that when they could reach the point of being ‘emptied’ of self or dying to self, then He could take the reigns in trust. This does not mean walking off a cliff and crying ‘catch me’. This means, when in the providence of God one is confronted by events too great for us, let Him work through us, speak through us, answer through us. You do not have His Wisdom!!!! Your human reason is limited, his divine reason is unlimited. Your ability [and mine] to love the unloveable is finite: His is infinite. Get out of the way. Do not conceive in your mind what only God can conceive of.

DYING TO SELF VS ‘GETTING RID OF’ SELF

Dying to self does not mean you get to a point some religions teach where you have no self at all and become part of some ‘oversoul’ or become a spark of divinity consumed in divinity. The self is not bad or ‘good’, it is simply the way God made us in space and time and in His order. The self, or personality, or who we are, reflect our uniqueness before God: He made each of us unique, and that uniqueness reflects and manifests His Glory and power. It has a place. But reflection of light is a far lesser light that the light reflected! If we can get to the point of ‘translucence’ and let God’s light shine directly through us, His will is more and more accomplished for us and for others. This is not some ‘New Age’ concept of light and darkness or divine spark: this means that as we put self in its thousands of ways aside and let the Holy Spirit have his way in our life, we come into the perfect order of God: we become what we were created to be. And when we do, we find a divine peace and rest. Not a lack of trouble or trials, but the perfect peace bought for us on the Cross.

Taking no thought is a point to be studied in the Word. When Jesus was confronted by enemies, He did not have disciples waiting by the door saying ‘first you say this, then I’ll say that’. He met each response and attempt to trap Him in his words with a wisdom beyond man’s, beyond a ‘quick’ comeback. The self is completely put aside when we ‘take no thought’. It is a difficult exercise for all of us so willing to and use to being in control. Jesus asks us to relinquish control.

This is not an exchange of reason and planning for no reason or planning. This is an exchange of human reason for DIVINE reason and planning. Self is not erased, but laid aside: given its proper order:
“For me to live is Christ to die is gain”
says it all: as Christ takes more and more hold of our lives, we do not find an unhappy grind of servitude: we are given joy and peace and life.
Few of us can really get to the point anymore where we can say ‘to die is gain’: we have lost site of Heaven and an eternal reward of life in His presence. Instead, we want the world, and more of it, and more of self.

I have heard too many people say that they will first take care of or pamper themselves, and then they will be at a point of taking care of others. Once you start down that path, there is no end: behind every self-gratification is another: self can become so bloated that one may never even see the ‘other’, much less serve. We do not fill with self or spoil self to get to a place of loving God. When we put self aside, give it a proper place as a reflection of God’s glory in creation, but not the god of our life, then we come to understand ‘dying’ to self, and letting Christ’s Mind be formed in us.

The Mind of Christ: First & Last

November 23rd, 2005

He is called the Alpha and the Omega: the beginning and the end. He is Life Over Death, He is the first and Last. He is in the Trinity, the Son of God, and yet one with God. Jesus is the Holy One of Israel, unto whom every knee will bow, and He is the One Head of all creation until the mystery (I Corinthians 15 ) of the ‘All in All’ is made evident.

In the Kingdom, or reign of Christ, He taught more than once about the first and last in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God, like the mind of Christ, is often seen as seditious by worldly Kings, Monarchs and Heads of State, because presents in utter power, a sovereignty greater than any on earth, and commands of its followers allegiance and loyalty which outweighs any patriotism. The careful Christian is the one who knows that we obey God rather than Man, and that the ‘children of the Kingdom are free’, and yet chooses to be the best citizen of any country he or she is born to, for this is a high command of our King and Sovereign, Jesus Christ. Normally and hopefully our ‘sedition’ is the same as Christ’s before the throne of Rome: one of Love, and a higher hope, a truer Life, and a Kingdom which will outlasts the one before us. The powers of earth sometimes seem not important enough to us, once we have seen the eternal power of Jesus Christ.

Concurrently, our views which seem out of sync with the world are compounded by the teaching of the One who said His ruling and reign, His “Kingdom” is not of this world, although He was born to the only throne which lasts. He seemed when He came, God incarnate, to be the last among men. Here is the next critical principle of the ‘Mind of Christ’.

Many try to reinterpret the Gospel to make Jesus into a wealthy man, but the eminent teaching, is that though it was ALL His, He surrendered to the robbery of His place with God, emptied Himself to becoming as Man so that we could see God in the flesh, and follow a way that was divine and anathema to earth, but perfect, peaceful and life-giving. Before He taught that in the Kingdom of God, the Last shall be first and the first Last, He lived it, walked it and made it manifest. Can you picture a King willingly leaving a throne to become the poorest person on earth? to risk starving and pain, servitude and cruelty to gain power? It would never happen. There is the occasional Christmas story of the King who dresses as a beggar to get to know his subjects, but the events last only a day or a few hours. There are a few earthly sovereigns who gave us a chance at a throne, such as England’s in order to marry for love and not position. Those are heartwarming stories. But the King called First and Last, the Beginning and End, divested Himself to become the lowest in the order of Israel, at a time when Israel so desperately needed a King that they would perish without one.

How was He made ‘last’ in Israel? His birth, rather than on fine linen in a Palace cradle was on hay, in a stable, perhaps a manger in a cave, with the poorest of men, outcasts, shepherds attending. His parentage included a foster father of lesser means a carpenter, and a young mother: nothing to claim the throne although continuously, through the most extreme poverty of circumstance from Beth lehem Ephratah, His Kingship and first place in the Kingdom was demonstrated all the way to Golgotha. A poor infant temporarily without a home, and yet Kings in Jerusalem feared Him and sought to kill Him, and Foreign Kings came bearing gifts suited not for poor waifs but for Sovereignty. Instead of candles lit and processions, Angels appeared in a night sky, and a Star, whatever its nature, raised the sceptre of the awaited Meschiach of Y’israel. Before He lays down His life, God will show by His last place in the Kingdom of Israel, His first place in the Kingdom of Israel and Heaven. His inaugural address promises the sweetness of release for captives, good news, utter healing, sight and comfort to the hurting. Life is His Declaration the day He ascends the throne at a podium in a Capernaum synagogue. He chooses His court, walks among His subjects, sets His commandments and the Torah as Law, He shows power not over a local region but over the elements, disease, the mind and even death. First of all, made by becoming last of all: and it didn’t sit well with the world: it scared [the Hell*] out of them.

First & Last

After seeing the remarkable power of God, the disciples get into a discussion on who shall be first and last in His Kingdom. After Jesus clearly outlines all that will happen to Him, the discussion is not “Will you be able to stand”, or bear the pain, or ‘how can this be’, but who will be the greatest in the Kingdom following Jesus. He replies:

And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant of all.

Servant of all, last of all: that order is not found in the world. The order of worldly power and success is ‘servant of none, first of all.” No corporate executives or Presidents hire managers who believe in being last of all. It is anathema to the carnal mind. Not to Christ. His followers who get ahold of this emptying of self in becoming servant and last, do not vy for center stage and the loudest microphone on the biggest stage: they teach quietly at home, and are heard nationally; they wait tables instead of teach great crowds, but like Stephen preach a dying sermon which lasts 2000 years, dying in love with Israel turning away like a bride from a bridegroom. They sell nothing of the Gospel, and give away all that they have, yet gain everything. The martyrs losing life at the stake are said to have spoken in loud voices and not whispers. Those who corrupted God’s Word died barely able to speak.

When one willingly relinquishes first place: whether in a vocation, a race, an opportunity or nation, in the will of God, one allows the power of God to work through them, in such a way that the only One who deserves first place and has the wisdom and power to use it can work effectively and clearly. When we rebel and choose pushing and shoving and trampling the heads of others to ‘win’ we may obtain worldly victories for a season, but we are robbed of Holy Spirit Power and will see nothing but trouble from the moment we arrive at our destination. A King of Israel in the Northern Kingdoms, Jehu, ascends to the throne after killing 70 sons of Ahab: while it fulfilled a prophecy, the reign of Jehu begets the same: division, strife, rebellion and eventual slaughter and the ruin of Israel. Out of God’s order, taking by force. David on the other hand, before that time, last of all, a child with stones against a giant, is raised to the throne by God through his prophet: that King of Israel had a reign unparalleled save for Jesus.

James talks about accepting the lower seat in the house of God: yet today, if someone prays about a ministry and is given cleaning or gardening, the feel slighted, not honored: they often seek to ruin the work of what they perceive of as a more important ministry: they do not understand that when God offers the ‘lowest’ in the world’s eyes, He may be offering a lesson beyond wisdom, and a work beyond expectation. While this was not in the Church, I had a season once between teaching positions, and to feed my family had to take a week long job as a fill in cleaning a children’s museum. While it may have been below my expectations for what I thought I was capable of, and while the week did not go perfectly, it was while I was there that I was made aware of a teaching job I wanted and got. Are you willing to take the smaller part?
We need to be willing though, to take the lesser or seemingly lesser position, even if it leads to nothing, but is in God’s will.

The Ambassador Janitor
In WWII, many Jewish people could not get out of countries which were Nazi occupied or about to become occupied. To leave, they had to have passports/visas and paperwork, and few wanted to help the Jews as the Nazis marched end, knowing it spelled the end to their careers or lives. One ambassador in Spain though, in the days before the Nazis took power, stayed awake day and night for several days, signing paper after paper, visa after visa: over 30,000 Jews were able to emigrate before the deadline. True to expectations, this man of means respect and position was ‘defrocked’ and could not get work. His family for the rest of his life lived on his salary as a janitor, far from embassy doors. He died in poverty, and in disgrace at the loss of his former position. But thousands of souls lived, and were not executed because of this one man willing to make such a sacrifice: Raoul Wallenberg did the same: his fate was imprisonment and most likely death in a Soviet prison, without the world ever knowing what happened, but 10s of thousands LIVED. Could our lives count for that?

Last is a hard thing to receive: sometimes the thing we covet is given back to us, and sometimes, it remains a distant glance back. Becoming last does not mean we purposely degrade ourselves or run to ruin, but carefully in obedience in God’s will, learn to relinquish to the lower rung of the ladder for His Will to take place in our lives and in the world.

There is power that comes about in the world from what Neimoller called
“the spirit of force and retailiation”. Those who can deliberately stay away from, turn away from that kind of power, even when ‘everybody else’ does it, find the power of God greater, counting the cost of taking their place as Christ’s body and presence in the world. He is first.

Lastly, whether we regard His will and way and order matters little: in the end, when things are made as they should be, the right order of things will be made manifest: we can cooperate or rebel. The passages below denote the ‘correcting’ of order. We may be surprised to find out that many even in the Church today who are widely known and heard over broadcasts every day, may not even be saved: and if they are, some remain so carnal as to make everyone wonder. Those who will be first and receive the greater abiding with Christ could be the elderly man who rides a bike to church on Sunday, or the quiet woman sitting in the back pew. God will make manifest His First and Last: He is the First and Last.

Mark 10:31 [But many [that are] first shall be last; and the last first.
Luke 13:30 And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last].

Time and the Mind of Christ

November 28th, 2005

The sum of what has been addressed so far in considerations of the ‘Mind of Christ’ which is formed in us over the years passed our first confession of faith, is:

I. That the Mind of Christ must be formed in us

II. The Mind of Christ is different and often opposed to the natural mind

III. That Faith is essential and that the nature of real faith is coming to God as a child in trust and surrender

IV. That surrender and ‘dying to the self’, is not a ‘murder’ of the self, nor an ‘esteem’ of the self, but a surrender of self, [self-less-ness] of allowing Christ through the Holy Spirit to live and work through us

V. Obedience and Surrender require the trust and divine reason afforded us though the Word and the Holy Spirit, and are separate from the worlds reason, a corollary to I.

TIME and CHRIST

Another essential in forming the Mind of Christ is a new view of time. In the last discussion, we spoke of was ORDER: He is the first and last, the alpha and Omega. When we begin to see ourselves as eternal creatures, at least from birth on, we even in this life begin to view time differently. I believe ardently that what we conceive of as ‘time’ now will be irrelevant or greatly redefined in our eternal destination of Heaven. Much is different in heaven: contention, strife and war are gone, they have no need of the sun, the clime is perfect (See Rev 21-22 and Isaiah):
our service to God and presence before Him are characterized by prayer, and joy and excellence and rest. Some call it bliss, but I think with our finite minds, we cannot imagine the overwhelming of Heaven. No fatigue, ennui, boredom, no exhaustion, each moment new like the last and fresh and filled with joy, grace and the nearness of God and His Love. So in Heaven, our sense of time , I believe will be different.

Time on this earth, is the stuff of daily routine, night and day, and physics and philosophy. We sense it moving on. We grow old in it. It is the ‘glue’ of order: time gives us a before , a present and an after, although we are always living in the present.

A dictionary of philosophy defines time thusly:

Temporal duration. Philosophers have traditionally addressed such questions as: whether time is an independent feature of reality or merely an aspect of our experience; whether or not it makes sense to think of time as having had a beginning; why time is directional and the past and future are asymmetrical; whether time flows continuously or is composed of discrete moments; whether there is absolute time in addition to relations of temporal succession; and whether it is possible to travel through time.

The Eleatics developed general arguments to show that time and motion are impossible, and Augustine employed the analysis of time to explain human freedom in the face of divine power. Leibniz maintained that time is nothing more than temporal relations, Newton and Clarke defended its absolute character, and Kant tried to mediate by regarding space and time as pure forms of sensible intuition. Later idealists commonly followed McTaggart in denying the reality of time.

Fluid Time and the Bible

The Bible’s teaching about time though shows it to both be similar to the vernacular understanding, defined by years and months, youth and old age, day and night and eras, but uniquely also shows it as a fluid thing: we think of time as absolutely fixed and unchangeable, but several instances in the Bible show it to be less fixed than we are comfortable with: for example when the sun stood still for Gideon, or when time moved back an hour for Hezekiah. Still, most of the ‘time’ Time described in scriptures holds it’s shape and form: measured by hours, minutes, days years, and holding a beginning and end.

In the New Testament, though, when time is mentioned, we seem to move even further in comprehending how very big God is, and while all of the new Testament maintains God’s earthly order of time, principals and ideas of what time is like are shared including: the Nature of God in time, the essential of living in the present and the expanse of eternity, including a day, when an Angel of God announces, “Time No Longer”. Each will be discussed.

I AM: The Nature of God in Time

When the LORD appears to Moses in the burning bush that is not consumed, and Moses asks of God to tell who He should say sent him, God replies:

[
God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. [Exodus 3:14]]

In the very holy name God addresses Himself by and instructs Moses to carry in endorsement, the power, wisdom and eternal nature of God is seen, and so is the ‘time-less-ness’ of God. Just as Jesus taught that self was to be put aside, a ‘self-less-ness’, our ingrained notions of time need to be reconsidered also. Now, just as with self, Jesus never suggested that we throw out our concept of time, or our belief in it: in fact, when people’s sense of time is disrupted, there is often a disruption in a sense of who and what they are: disruptions in the sense of time , or what psychologists call ‘temporal disintegration’ often accompanies altered states of consciousness,drug use, and premorbid, or prefaces to mental illness. Time is the glue that holds our sense of earthly life together: we were young, we were middle-aged, we are older: we woke in the morning and went to sleep in the evening: we speak, write and think in beginning, middle and ends, in pasts and futures.

But the title/name I AM, shows God in a more expansive way then men imagine Him. When men conceive of ‘a god’, they make him in THEIR image, Zeus’s have white hair and power, idols control events, etc. The God of Heaven though calls Himself by a rubric indicating a time-less and time-filling nature: the ‘tetragrammaton’ or the 4 hebrew letter word which I AM is translated off of, can also be translated: I AM WHO IS, I AM THAT I AM, and in similar ways: by His name, God told Moses that He was the God Who Is, the God Who was, and the God Who will always be: while we think of God as eternal existing forever in the past present and future, He intimates an ‘ever-existing’ God. I can not document or ‘prove’ from scripture that past and future are irrelevant beyond the grave, in God’s order I suppose always some events must be perceived as before or after others, but I suspect time will take on a new dimension of ‘ever-existing’. When Jesus refers to Himself when discussing Abraham, He makes the mysterious remark, “Before Abraham was, I AM”. He both ties Himself to the I AM whom Moses and Abraham knew, and He points to the phenomenon of ‘ever-existing’: existing always in an eternal present.

Jesus’ Doctrinal Principles of Time

God always existing in time, before us, here with us and after our death extends beyond our imagination and vision. We can not think ‘outside’ time, at least the time in this world. Given however that the very nature of God points to a greater sense of time than we see here, it is no surprise that Jesus, God-Made-Man, or Emanuel, God-With-Us, taught about time with the eyes of eternity. Jesus was no ‘time-traveler’, in fact time travel is not at all what is considered here and is anathema to true doctrine. One does not have to ‘travel’ through time if one is the creator of time.

Jesus’ teaching about time though leads us at least to the doorstep of Heaven; his principles for our lived life are that it is eternal (even here), and that we are to seek living in the present rather than in the future or past. We have already in another section referred to a method in His teaching of time, of ‘taking no thought’: in which our very thinking is to be brought under the control of Christ, and we are to learn to live with the moment at hand, because [and this is the critical second part of the equation] tomorrow will have anxieties of its own.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow : for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself . Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof .Mat 6:34

In other verses, we are told not to take thought of our lives, what we wear, what we eat, or what we say, or whatever danger might belie us in the future. A command, this is that runs against our nature. All of humanity worries and worries. Constantly we are told by the world to ‘plan ahead’. This does not mean that you cannot store up resources if they are on hand, such as Joseph instructed Pharaoh to do, or as the ant is commended for in Proverbs. But it means that life is not to be lived in the future or the past: we are to get of hold of Jesus Christ’s mind on the issue and begin as new creations to live in eternity, in the present. Worry is all many know: it is what fells the greatest of men, but it is a corruption of our life in Christ in the here and now. Worry and anxiety are the concern that the future will find us without money, stability, friends, family, or a good name: these are the things eat up and consume people and make them lose faith and living in God’s presence.

Worry is an over concern with the future, which never actually arrives: it is a burden of pain of events which may never even occur: we double, triple or even quadruple our burdens by taking on what we can envision happening. And, if the thing really does occur, all the previous worry does not change it one iota. Worry is a pathology of thinking about time in a wrong way. It is pride in thinking we can change future events very much, and it is a lack of faith in God. Worry is unbelief.

When the Stock Market crashed in 1929, businessmen jumped out of windows to their death, because they envisioned themselves penniless in the future and despair overwhelmed them. Worry and anxiety and dread about the forthcoming never effect a positive outcome: they may indeed predispose a negative one by drawing attention away from clear thinking and the present. Most of the commands we are given are not for the future or to focus on the past but to live in the now. “Work quietly to do your own business” is for now. “Let not your hearts be troubled” is for now. “Be of Good Cheer” is for now. “Study to shew yourself approved” is for now and there are hundreds of others. Psalm 119 points at one point to the brevity of life: we are as grass here today and gone tomorrow: if we live a hundred years or are stillborn, God’s purpose and plan will hold in our lives, and we continue forever either in the presence of God or outside the presence of God, a horror, pain and abyss too great to envision.

THE PAST

We are also called not to dwell in the past: we are told

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phl 3:14

We are to ‘forget’ as though it was not there, ‘taking no thought of the past’. This is a point which creates champions in Christ: did you fail? Did you fall? You can live in shame for the rest of your life and obsess over what you should have done differently,
Or you can ‘forget’ all but the lesson: you do not have to ‘relive’ the past. Others will tell you what you cannot do because of something in the past. Christ calls you in the present: it is not tomorrow that He calls or requires or commands: it is today: likewise if Christ calls, it is not the past which determines our obedience: “Lord I cannot because I once…..” or because in the past we failed or sinned, or were ‘handicapped in some way.
Each morning brings a new possibility to obey His Will. Even if we failed miserably yesterday. When we are born-again, born anew, born from above, a transformation takes place: we walk in “the newness of life. We leave behind the ‘Old Man’, the one who existed entirely in the flesh. It is not ‘us’ anymore, and we do not have to receive what we ‘used to be’. We were given a clean slate, our righteousness is now His, not ours and we are infants learning to walk in a God-given righteousness. Babies do not walk perfectly: they crawl, get it a little, learn to stand and then tumble and totter like little tin soldiers until they learn the finesse of walking. It’s o.k. We grow into learning to walk in HIS righteousness: but to return to the concept of time Jesus teaches, if we were to constantly consider what we ‘used to be’ we would quickly go back to the old life and bear no fruit. Today is ours. We can as the same passage intimates, reach for what is ahead: the next lesson, the next call, but we are not to worry about it. We are to view time as a present plate, we can reach for helpings from the past or ideas from the future, but we are not to live in them.

A point of forming the Mind of Christ, is to begin at the moment you are in, cherishing the moment, resting as is possible in the moment, learning that life, eternal life continues as a present state though we envision the future. A greater point yet though is that it is really Christ who forms this thinking in us, it is often not in our power without Him, and we may ask it in prayer. Fit for Heaven, to live with Him there.

____________

THE CHRIST OF TIME

God exists in time as if there were no past or future, and yet as the one who formed time along a continuum that in our limited state we could have handrails in life. I mentioned before that time seems to be the ‘glue’ that holds life together, and ordering of events which happened before and after the present.

When I was in college, my chairman of my Masters used to tell a story about how self
Was likened to a little girl who received a coat as a child. When the first tear appeared, a patch was sewn over it, a second rip, another patch, and so on until the whole coat was patched and not a button or thread of the original coat remained, and yet it was the ‘same’ coat. What made the totally different coat the same as the new coat? TIME. It changed over time. The perception of the sameness of the item over time gave it identity and definition. In Christ time is not without a place, He simply tries to teach an eternal perspective. Time here in this world, helps our limited minds to hang on to reasons and sanity: to meaning.

The Great Divine Paradox in Time

How could Jesus say he was before Abraham? He was as scripture puts it ‘not yet 50’. Because divine existence supercedes our small concept of time. There are many things I suspect but cannot absolutely prove, and I try to stay out of gray areas, but I suspect [this is not absolute] that if God exists in an eternal ‘present’ then our past present and future is viewed on the same plane before Him: He sees it all at once, knows it all at once. How else could certain statements be true? When Jesus points to the psalm of David where it is said “the Lord said unto my LORD” and questions how the Messianic prophecy could be to David, and how the Son of David could be Lord of David, He points to this temporal issue.

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then calls him Lord, how is he his son? Mat 22:44-45

In another passage, Jesus meets on the Mount of Transfiguration with Elijah and Moses: one died the other went up in a chariot of fire, but 100-1500 years later he speaks with them in front of the apostles Peter James and John.

How is it possible? He stands in the future and tells the apostles that before Abraham , He existed. He meets with Elijah and Moses in front of three living .

He also prophesies His death and resurrection, and yet fights a divine struggle, a ‘theokampf’ in Gesethemene. The present, future and past, intertwined.

He foretells the crucifixion and of Salvation on Calvary, and yet He also speaks about it being accomplished since the foundation of the earth. Salvation itself is spoken of as for ‘whosoever will’ indicating a free choice in time and space which changes an eternal destiny, and yet His own are spoken of as being ‘elected since the foundation of the earth’. Such an oxymoron of events seems mutually exclusive that we could both be pre-destined and yet at the same time choose or not choose and it seals our future: and yet both exist in a genuine and true paradox. Mystery is made of that sort of stuff.

TIME NO LONGER

A Last Point before leaving the discussion of Heaven, Christ and Time, is that of Revelation, when an Angel of the LORD appears and declares, “TIME NO LONGER”.

Rev 10:6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

There comes a point when God declares through His emissary that Time will end. Since it is an eternal God with eternal Life who declares this, we can surmise that He means that earthly finite Time will end, that there will be an end to all things as we know them, and this passage occurs before the New Heaven and New Earth is spoken of. When “Time no Longer” is declared, it is the end of all things.

I would speculate that it could be read on two parallels: the end of all things, and the end of earthly time . If God can speak and an atom with spinning electrons and protons and neutrons can hang in balance, if creation can form at a spolen breath, then He speaks at the end and time and order fall apart. If the breath of God speaks the elements into existence, then God speaks and declares Time no longer and it flies apart: it is what we observe as fission.

Rev 10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

This second passage makes it clear that there is a finite end to the small vehicle of life on this planet: the end to our ‘appointment’. Here. God’s plan is accomplished. The Last Gentile comes in, the Jews turn to Messiah at the final war in Meggido, and the Eternal Covenant proceeds, but not an earth and population which had become so vile as to defy God’s gaze, so bloody and so without Love and Christ , that He declares “Time no Longer”. We will enter in to the fullness of Eternal Life, then when we are transformed with new bodies and minds, fit for eternity.

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Exploring Christian Concepts, Teaching, Doctrines, News, Commands, and lessons.

The Other & Respect for Persons

December 3rd, 2005

We may exist in time and space on a small spinning planet far away from other discernable or any life, a mystery in itself, but we also exist in a sea of other people. Human relations are both the height of daily experience ( except of course for the LORD), and can also be the nadir of existence: they bring joy and happiness and plunge people into despair and despondency.

Life among others on this planet however it manifests itself, though is inevitable: and in the forming of the Mind of Christ, one of the most critical tenets is how we view the ‘Other’. Scripture is adamantly clear about how we are to view other people both in the Old and New Testament. Sometimes a complex picture is presented, as we are called to the tenderloving kindness of God, and yet we see Israel commanded to go into bloody battles to take Canaan. While some have argued that approaches or commands are different in the Old Testament, the truth is, the same commands and doctrines hold, and some of the same complexities, although in the New Testament there is a more direct examination of how we should live in the face of other people. Even Jesus at one point, having taught the love and peace of God admonishes a time of picking up the sword, albeit only once, although the clear command in Old and New Testaments is the love and high regard for the people in our lives, even our enemies. These are the issues addressed in this passage.

THE ORDER OF GOD

Before beginning a look at the teachings in the Word about ‘Others’, we need to delineate that part of the reason, outside of the Divine Love and Nature of God for obeying and honoring, learning, and ‘putting on the thinking of God’ in regard to other people is that it maintains the ORDER OF GOD

When I was an unbeliever, I held views many unbelievers hold: since God was far from my mind, so was His Order: I did not think about such things, in fact I rather saw the world as unordered, put together by a random chaos. Even after coming to the LORD I did not concern myself with such things, but after years, and changing my mind and thinking about many things, I came to understand the critical nature of God’s ORDER, both in nature and among people, and between Man and God. When God’s order is maintained and established, the world and relationships work in equilibrium: everything functions smoothly. I am tempted to say “like a well-oiled machine” but this is no mechanical creation, but a living, breathing one: not a pantheistic ‘all is one’ or ‘all is god’ view, but a viable excellent creation in perfect order, in which vegetation draws nutrition from the ground and replenishes it when it decays, where trees and plants grow leaves producing photosynthesis which feed the tree: a million and yet each different, where processes of distillation , winds, weather and the composition of the layers of air, our ‘firmament’ protect a planet supporting life in perfect balance, where even the death of plant and animal life reinforces the ground to support future life: it is a complex and intricate order and an excellent one.

But just as God’s creation manifests itself in an excellent web and network of order, so do human relationships both of people to people and people to God. The Holy Bible directs us in many principles of obedience which keep us in order. When God’s Order is disrupted: there is chaos and entropy, and at whatever point the order is destroyed, so are the people events and things around it. While we always claim Romans 8:28, that all works for the good, we can avoid a great deal of suffering when we maintain God’s Order in human relationships and in our relationship with Him. Sin, is often referred to as ‘missing the mark’ from a translation of the word, and the Bible also uses the word ‘inequity to denote sin. An ‘iniquity’ means an ‘un-equalness’: a point where God’s equilibrium and order come apart, and the result is never good, unless God knits it back together in His inimitable way.

To understand even Sin in this way, we can then understand that the commands of God both in the Old and New Testament are for our good: He doesn’t tell us not to ‘marry foreign spouses’ or for the wife to be subject to the husband, or for us to avoid bearing false witness or loving the world and the things in it, it is not because He wishes to put retrictions and burdens on us so that we can be ‘religious’ and stoic: it is so we can avoid chaotic destructiveness which He knows will take place in our lives when we walk outside His Order and excellence. Many people see Sin as doing something ‘bad’ and we are ‘bad’ because of it, but when we ‘miss the mark’ we fall into disruption and destructiveness: God doesn’t want that for us: He wants us at rest and content. This is not ‘name it and claim it’ voodoo where we get any carnal desire by conjuring God, but a learning to walk in balance and order, the ‘plain path’ of scripture which He promises He will give. The Keeping of His Order is a good and holy thing: it does not promise that the discomforts and hardships of the world will not come into our lives. only that we will have a firm foundation when they do and the winds will not prevail in the end.

The Other

Now , this may not seem related to a discussion of how the ‘Other’ is regarded in the Mind of Christ but it is an essential understanding: when our view of others, regard for others and willingness to submit to the order God has given us with regard to others, we are blessed with rest and contentment, and God promises His presence. The following are areas regarding the ‘Other’ which we are called to change our thinking and heart about when coming to Christ. As with most points, though in our transformations into a New Life, it is Christ in us and through us that accomplishes the change in mind and heart: we are powerless to do it ourselves.

The Other and Respect for Persons

December 12th, 2005

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28

[And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.Mark 12:31
__]————————————————————————————————————

We have just finished speaking about God’s order, our preface for talking about how God views the ‘other’ , the ‘other person’ in this mind of Christ which we are commanded to ‘put on’. Before we can understand why it is so important, we need to understand that God’s order causes peace, rest, excellence and His Plan to prevail, and hence, the salvation of souls and His Glory to be made manifest. When we are walking in His order and light, in His way, we fulfill what He has called us to be. When the rich young ruler asks Jesus what are the two greatest commandments, Jesus replies that the first, as we should expect, is to love God with all our hearts and minds and souls. When we do this, His commands are not a burden or a ‘have to’. We run to them to delight a Heavenly Father who delights us and delights in us. In the center of His Will is in the center of His Love, and most true Christians are very uncomfortable in this world being away from either.

The same Jesus, though, right after noting our complete and utter relationship to and obligation to our Father, God, notes the second greatest commandment: To Love Others as Ourselves. This is given cursory attention in today’s Church and world: we all acknowledge that it is good to ‘love one’s fellow man’ but so do all other religions: what makes the love of the other person so different in the Kingdom of God? In the Mind of Christ? It is because one cannot have the Holy Spirit Agape Love, without it innately reaching out to ‘others as ourselves’. When it is missing, something is terribly wrong and we are not in fellowship closely with God either: we quench the Holy Spirit, because it is God’s nature to Love.

We all fall short of our love towards others, though, and while most of us love God alot, and occasionally get very mad at Him when things don’t go our way, we are far more likely to fall out of love with other people than with God. To be in God’s order, though, is to be in love with God and with those He created, especially in the Ikklesia, or Church.

The first scripture above starts the premise of how we are to view other people in the Church. It notes that there are no differences between Jew and Greek, or male or female.

THE OTHER: LESSON I: THE GREAT BLOOD_BOUGHT TOLERANCE

Col 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus

Neither Jew nor Greek
For the past 9 or 10 years, I have devoted much of my academic activity to studying the Holocaust or Shoah. When I began to study the Shoah, I did not come to it blindly: I had worked with Thanatological issues for many years, and although before then it was not my main area, I often heard reference to the events of sixty years ago, via philosophers and psychologists who had either survived themselves or studied the Shoah, or thanatologists and theologians who used it often for an example. My reasons for beginning a study of the Shoah though, were not initially an ‘academic’ issue, but an earnestly human one: after 8 years of university training in Psychology with a specialization in mourning,loss and bereavement, and after now two decades of being a Christian studying the Scriptures, Church history, Bible history, Jewish theology and history on my own, I could not comprehend nor grasp how we could engage in a World War leaving 65 million dead, nor grasp the target : the Jewish genocide at the center of it. More than that, as a child and adult born post-war, looking back to the great and terrible events slightly before I was born, I could not fathom what limits or bonds of humanness had to decay before we were willing to do anything , virtually anything to another human being merely to win power, wealth or whatever other earthly gain we might have imagined. An equally disturbing question for me, was how any Christian person could have been involved or apathetic enough not to help or speak up during the war, and having not grown up with Anti-Semitic attitudes what could possibly motivate the sort of raw hatred it took to try to erase one particular people from off the face of the earth, much less Europe. After the years I have spent studying though, and recognizing I am only at the beginning of it, I have had an additional question growing since the start: how could we not let it change us?

In the sixty years since the end of WWII, as one by one each concentration camp was found with starving frozen corpses which had been abused and murdered, instead of a world in which many survivors and most of their children are still alive having deeply repented and turned, we have instead had genocide after genocide, mounting in numbers, killings in the millions, based on race, geographical location, and national identities: our reasons for war have changed, but we have not.

I say all this at the beginning of a discussion I have called “The Great blood-bought Tolerance”, for tolerance is the most we have been able to get lip service for over the past post war years. The field of holocaust studies has abounded: there are more published books on this event than on almost anything in history: they are sound, scholarly, and detailed and one will never get to the end of all of them. Documentaries fill the history channels, and Museums are growing, the press has contributed greatly by constant attention to Holocaust related events, and schools seek to teach tolerance education, what ever that is, but we have not grown more tolerant, nor been changed by the unimaginable number of graves we have foisted upon ourselves in 60 years, not from natural causes but from outright murders.

Hard to live in a world like that. Hard to imagine that after six decades of slaughter, one may be called insane for being too concerned about what is going on: the insanity is decidedly in forgetting, not remembering.

So, to begin this study of ‘tolerance’ we begin by noting that the tolerance taught by Christ, is not the tolerance of this world, nor some grand ‘ecumenical nonsense’ of ‘all-join-hands’ theology, for the truth is though we are called to love others better than ourselves we truthfully do not like one another very much, and our differences if pushed together can cause intolerance and hatred rather than love and tolerance. The tolerance we are called to is a love stronger than any differences in another person and [this is the one we all have trouble with] stronger than anything they do

When Christ died on Golgotha
For Jewish people to start at Golgotha when talking about tolerance would seem offensive, for those of us who have been there to understand, it is the only place to start: it is where our tolerance begins: and not mere tolerance but love. We can only love, because we are loved. When Jesus paid the price there, He paid the price with blood that was divine, He exacted on the Cross what we could never do for ourselves, He took on His back not only the sins of the world, but provided for us the healing not only of our physical and emotional ailments, but also the prejudices, hatreds and intolerances for others: we can not possibly thing, that any one is better than ourselves after dwelling in the covenant of His blood. We were not worth His death and suffering: He could have merely created someone new in our place, but instead, taught us the extremities of real Love. So complete is this salvation that He was not the respecter in giving it with regard to any race, nation, people, or other difference: it is free to all, and we cannot look on another person different from ourselves as holding any less a place in His heart: those who still need healing, He wants healed; those who have received His healing, His Salvation, He wishes to grow to be like Him. So extensive was His Love, and most of us are not there yet, that after He was bound, falsely arrested, tortured greatly, beaten, humiliated, mocked, and abused even on the Cross, He turns to say, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do”: He could see beyond to the eternal suffering of those who abused Him so badly, we often lose sight of this. Only He can form this Love in us: it is not of this world. I have mentioned before, that when God sees us, after Salvation, He sees only one color: red. He does not see the nationality or race of a person, He sees only His Son, or a need for His Son. This is evident from John 3:17, the verse most people forget following 3:16:

for God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved. John 3:17

He is not about condemnation on any basis, and yet we spend so much of our time in it. We cannot have kneeled at Golgotha and not walked away knowing we are not more or less valuable to Him than any other person: He could easily have created others in our place: we were not worthy of the act that kept us from eternal suffering, so for us to think that others have any less a place before Him than we do, is not only erroneous, it defiles the knowledge of what He did for us, and keeps others from Salvation. No Christian can hold bigotry or prejudice in his heart without quenching the Holy Spirit and departing from the presence of God.

Not Even Respect of Position

So complete is the teaching that in Christ there are no differences, that even RESPECT FOR POSITION is counted as a ‘evil thought.’ James notes it in the following:
[[My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the Lord] of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Jam 2:2-4
]]
If it is even an evil thought to consider inside the House of God that one with more money or position is ‘better’ or deserving of more regard or respect, then how much more should we erase consideration of such things outside the Church?

The “Mind of Christ” takes on a different view of others and racial, national and ethnic differences than the world. God sees the differences as a reflection of the glory of His creation, not as a vying for position of superiority: none are superior, and none are more than ‘created’.

 

Jew nor Greek

Of the differences mentioned in the beginning passage in Scripture in Galatians, the first to be erased is that between Jew and Greek, a critical separation issue. Mind you, that most of the admonitions are for those ‘in Christ’, in the Church, where the barriers between Man and God and Man and Others are broken down. In the world, the barriers often still exist, but the believer is called to be wise, but walk in Christ. Jews kept separate from the Greeks in their dress, their worship, and in many other practices, save for commerce. They tried to keep separate from a secular state, but the State made it impossible.

[* Mind of Christ: The Other- Jew nor Greek *]

December 27th, 2005

Of the differences mentioned in the beginning passage in Scripture in Galatians, the first to be erased is that between Jew and Greek, a critical separation issue. Mind you, that most of the admonitions are for those ‘in Christ’, in the Church, where the barriers between Man and God and Man and Others are broken down. In the world, the barriers often still exist, but the believer is called to be wise, but walk in Christ. Jews kept separate from the Greeks in their dress, their worship, and in many other practices, save for commerce. They tried to keep separate from a secular state, but the State made it impossible. And yet the promise was of a Jewish Messiah for a Jewish nation, who is at the same time, paradoxically called “Light of the Gentiles”. Several passages in scripture identify this unique juxtaposition of the Jew and Gentile in Christ: after the veil between man and God is rent (torn) the premeire value is genuine love, agape love, above the warm-feeling ‘philia’ or brotherly love that some feel in great movements, or at at holidays, but unconditional, self-less love which overlooks the faults and peccadillos of a person and still holds them in esteem and regard. Some say only mothers approximate this unconditional love on earth, but in the Church, we are called to it. As such, all peripherals which define a person take second place to the fact that they are created by God, and that they are a living reflection of His Glory. It is not that one’s race or culture, or name, or intelligence or body shape do not add to one’s definition of oneself, it is simply that in terms of regard to another person, they are not essential. The Holy Spirit indwelling us, provides our ability to love others in this way.

Many Christians throughout the ages have prayed the prayer asking God for His love for another person, especially the hard to love: the recalcitrant erring child, the person we have prejudice towards, the person worst of all who has dealt us great pain, injustice and hurt. It is the great hallmark of those in Christ to strive towards the utter regard of the ‘Other’: even in the face of pain and humiliation. When that love is formed in the heart by the indwelling, it is like no other love on earth. We all fall short of it most of the time, but it is noted as the greatest gift and second only to the commandment to love God above all else.

When we then consider the ‘Jewish-Gentile’ question today, we are really in no way far from the discussion of the first century: the walls between Jews and Gentiles are broken down. This does not mean that the Jewish person coming to Messiah throws his heritage away, in deed all of the New Testament affirms that we enter in to that heritage: we enter into the promises, covenants, prophecies, Messiah and faith as is stated in Romans:

Who are Israelites; to whom [pertaineth] the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service [of God], and the promises; Romans 9:4

When the walls in Christ {outside there is still contention] between Jew and Gentile are broken down, it is not to the detriment of either: the Gentiles enter in to the promises of the Chosen People, not as a new replacement people, but entering into the election chosen since the foundation of the earth. As such, we should never have developed into ‘regular’ Christians and ‘Jewish’ or ‘Messianic’ Christians: we should all basically regard ourselves as one, and equal, and as either Jews by the flesh who entered into the promise, or Gentiles who were adopted in by belief. This barrier should be utterly broken down in Christ, in the House of God. Instead, too often we see just the opposite.

In WWII, the preminence of the flesh over the Spirit became glaring: in Catholic Churches, clerics cooperated with separating ‘sacraments’ for Jewish converts and Gentile Catholics—-and while I do not espouse Catholic doctrine, it was certain a push of Catholic doctrine at the time that race was not a point of division: they held true to the Gospel on that point. Lest one think it was the Catholics only, the whole German Lutheran Church split over this and other issues: there are accounts even among Baptists of Jews who returned to the Pastors who had baptised them only to be turned away in fear for their own lives: even the believing Church erred and sinned against it’s siblings, the believing Jews in a way anathema to Scripture and quenching the Holy Spirit. The DC, or Deutsche Christen Church in Germany during the Shoah went even farther: it dismissed and tried to eradicate every point of Judaic influence from Scripture, worship, and other elements of Church life, removing the Old Testament, redefining Jesus as an Aryan and referring to Paul as a Rabbi with an inferiority complex, not conducive to ‘Third Reich ‘ Christians.

Even today we see remnants of this in American Churches: Churches which advertise themselves as “New Testament Only” as if one could keep a branch living without the root. These Churches are not as mean-spirited and many have no overt show of prejudice at all, they have just fallen prey to an ancient heresy of Marcionism which called the Christian erroneously to see the Old Testament as for the Jews only, or before Grace and therefore irrelevant. A student of scriptures immediately picks out the lack of discernment: God and His Grace, Glory and Salvation exist at all points in Scripture: even before the foundation of the World, and are a continuing covenant, the fulfillment of which is made clear in the New.
Distinctions based upon any race but especially towards Jewish believers is prohibited: it is sin in God’s eyes. When any person comes to Christ , race ceases to be any issue other than it adds to His diverse nature in creation: it was His delight to create each a unique glory. In all that we discuss, that should be our primary focus: that the other person, even if they have fallen prey to the world and become corrupt, hard-hearted, and sinister to the point of revulsion, was created a unique glory, but away from belief and the Word and the Holy Spirit, Hell can literally take hold. We do not lack wisdom in dealing with dangerous people, nor are we called to having to receive constant danger from them, but our love for them, even the ‘monsters’ is required, knowing that but for the grace of God, we might have been that infected with the world as well. Behavior can understandably cause consternation, but race should be an easy dismissal as a reason for contention between believers, or towards unbelievers.

The Other: Neither Male nor Female

January 7th, 2006

The reason the first premise, at the very least in the Church must be the breaking down of walls between Jew and Greek, is because it set the foundation for a Church where belief and love mattered more than all other differences. It was not an abandonment of the Law of God: quite the contrary, for in Christ, in the Messiah, belief, faith and Love were put in their proper order, and rather than abandoning the laws of separation between the Jews and others, the new command established them. In the Old Testament [the Torah, Tenach] the commands of separation were to

1)Keep the Line of Messiah Pure, and[
**]2)Protect Israel from falling into Sin and unbelief.

Both of these reasons were meant to set apart a Holy, Sanctified, dedicated and anointed people, of God’s Choosing, who would bear his Glory, do His Will and be loved by Him. As Gentiles came to the faith through belief in the Jewish Messiah, they were adopted into the vine and made heirs of the promises and covenants, adopted as children into God’s Chosen people. They did not REPLACE God’s chosen people. So essentially, in belief we become a part, albeit grafted in, of the vine of Israel, the Chosen, for the same purposes: to bear God’s Glory, love and be loved by Him, and carry His purposes and plans into the world.

Neither Male nor Female[
**]
If we begin to understand why there is no Jew and Gentile in Christ, no point of racial or ethnic division, then we begin to understand what it means when the vail was torn at his death, and why the carnal things that matter so much to us on earth matter far less in Christ.

The Vail was Rent

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;Matthew 27:51
And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.Mark 15:38
And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.Luke 23:45

The passages above get some mention in sermons, but not enough attention is paid towards the miracle and significance of what happened the day Jesus died and the vail in the temple was torn in two. The vail in front of the Temple when it moved in the desert with Israel was of scarlet, gold, blue and white: one entered into the Holy Place through it, confronting first sacrifice and then the basin, and through a vail into the Holy of Holies[kodesh kodeshim], inside the Holy Place. It is the separation before the coming of Messiah, between Man and God, and only until that time, a High Priest could enter in to offer up the sacrifice. A vail is mentioned another time in scripture when Moses came down from the Mountain, having been in the presence of God and even his face shone with a remnant of the Glory, but it was so great, that a vail covered his face because sinful man could not look on even a small fragrance of the Glory of God. This is all mentioned because when we talk about the separations and “walls of partition”, we have to realize the degree of what was done, not only to take down the vail between man and God, but between all who share in belief and the the Blood of Christ.

The first separation between Jew and Gentile is erased in the ‘ikklesia’ in the assembly of believers. And the second division, is also held of significantly less importance than belief: the difference between male and female.

This point may seem paradoxical at first, because in the Old and New Testament, both before salvation and after, before Pentecost and after, men and women are admonished greatly about the proper role and order of the sexes. There is a difference between agreeing to the order Christ places in the church and His creation, abiding by His order and sense, and yet still understanding that while we are given different roles and vocations, we are equal before Him: we are equal in His Love, in His Plan, and in His gifts! His order does not contradict His Love and equity.

Men and Women are given the task together to ‘show’ or manifest the Church and God’s love in this world. In a marriage, we are admonished to allow male headship, and female submission, but in a joint effort, with two equals agreeing to the roles, both of which are excellent and critical in God’s way. The husband is commanded to show Christ’s love for the Church, loving his wife as Christ loves the Church [Ephesians 5:25]. The wife is commanded to show the ‘Bride’ of Christ in surrender to her husband’s headship, in loving him and building him up as the Church is to love Christ as head. We tend to devalue what we see as a ‘lesser’ role of the woman but it is not lesser: it is different, and properly balanced, the two, husband and wife, made into one flesh, show Christ and His Church, and His Love to the World. It is a joint venture, a joint mission, and a dynamic, living pleasing relationship when it is in careful balance. Unfortunately, most do not keep it in balance and that is when i becomes burdensome. Headship of a church of family too often disintegrates into domination, and submission is often overthrown in its wake, or becomes a form of emotional slavery. In proper order and holiness, though, it is a mutual obedience filled with joy and peace, meeting the needs of each.

This principle carries to males and females in the Church: while there have been female ministers and some even very good, and some out of utter necessity or the Gospel would not have been preached, but it is not God’s perfect order for a woman to ‘head’ a church: on the other hand, too many men do not realize, that God’s perfect order is Christ as the head, and the ‘bishop’ as a servant-leader. Our concern with whether men should have certain jobs in the House of God or whether women can take those roles, is partly doctrinal and partly carnal. It is clearly ‘doctrine’ [His] that men should take leadership under Christ in the Church. On the other hand, there are multiple tasks and roles which women are mentioned having in God’s will in the Old and New Covenants: Huldah was a prophetess and ‘college’ professor, Esther headed half of Persia, and saved her nation, Deborah took a man [Barak]‘s place in battle winning victory and rising as a mother in Israel to become a Judge of Israel, and in the New Testament, Prisca AND Aquila headed a church and taught, and Phoebe is mentioned also in the highest esteem: Anna, a prophetess announces in addition to Simeon the premiere nature of Christ’s ministry at the time of His dedication and circumcision. So the distorted repeating of ‘women are to keep silence in the Church’ will not totally do but must be fit into the whole of scripture, while at the same time not defacing or defaming the very Holy Order of male and female roles in the Church. If God calls a woman to do a job which is normally a man’s, it is often because no man would respond to the call, or it is in judgment to shame men to take their rightful roles. When Israel sinned, God noted that women and children would become their judges. If they are anointed and appointed, even women CAN do what God has called them to do and indeed they must: they would be disobedient not to. However, it will often not work nearly as smoothly as when the Church is in proper order. When women and children take over most of the roles in a church it is a sign of God’s judgment: in a nation it is the same. Deborah arose after raising a family in Israel to do God’s will and say what was right. Why? Because no man was doing the right thing and Israel was failing because of it. Her phrase is astounding:

…they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel. Judges 5:7.

———

This is the end of Section I, of The Mind of Christ.

Part II will continue the teaching.


The Mind of Christ: Part I

Based upon the blog, written over 12 years ago, "THe Mind of Christ" originally on explaining.net, these brief post-studies formed the basis for the larger study The Healing of Christ Series, published by Judah's Glory. 'Putting on the Mind of Christ" is admonished in the Scriptures, but we do not hear much teaching today regarding what it means to "have the mind of Christ formed in us". Considerations in part I include the concept of time, the concept of others, the breaking down of the wall of partitions among believers and the 'great blood bought tolerance'. The essential doctrine of Surrender and God's order are also included in these first short writings.

  • ISBN: 9781311618177
  • Author: Elizabeth Kirkley Best
  • Published: 2015-10-31 02:20:07
  • Words: 20104
The Mind of Christ: Part I The Mind of Christ: Part I