Evil is as evil does

When Jesus was tested in the wilderness by Satan, Jesus did not hate the fact that evil was in the world.

Jesus did not organize his disciples to go protest the Romans, who believed that they were the world’s master race.

Jesus did not publicly condemn the people who served Satan, such that he never carried a bag of stones, to hurl at evil people the next time he found such presence.

No. Jesus simply told the evil of the world to get out of his face. (“Out of sight, out of mind.”)

The lesson there is that if you want to search out evil and point fingers at it, you then become a reflection of that which you condemn. You become a reflection of the evil you face, because you have then turned your back to God.

Thus the confession so many say is necessary for evildoers.  Evildoers confess for the sin of not having loved God with a whole heart and not having loved one’s neighbors (regardless of their evil) as extensions of oneself.   That confession comes by recognizing that, without God, one is just as evil as is anyone else in the world who is without God.  It means one cannot forgive trespassers of any kind.

Without a whole heart committed to focus only on God, then one prays not to be forgiven by God. (“And lead us not into temptations, but deliver us from evil.”)  Saying the LORD’s Prayer without pure intent to live up to expectation then becomes the words of a mouth that defiles.  The confession recited in church is then admitting a failure to live up to the instruction to be sent out into the world in peace with a singleness of heart.

One fails to love only God because one delights in the evil the world presents us … as entertainment.  The world becomes the playhouse where we can act as a god.  Without actors portraying evil, there is no drama and no need to the gods of self-righteousness. Instead of a whole heart in love with the peace of Yahweh, one yearns to be distracted by the evil that always comes to greet the faithful.

Evil comes to test one’s faith, just as Satan came to Jesus at his time of preparation to ministry.  Evil comes to sway the minds of those who say they love God, in order to turn one away from Him. We are promised a world full of Charlottesvilles.

Evil won in Charlottesville Virginia; and evil gloats at pointing out how much evil there is in the world.

Get behind me all those who proclaim to be self-righteous … on both sides of the evil street, and all who gaze upon it.

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God testing Abraham’s servitude

In 1641, French philosopher René Descartes wrote in his work Meditations on First Philosophy, which would be republished in Latin (from the original French): “Cogito ergo sum” – “I think, therefore I am.” In this deductive conclusion that is still studied today, Descartes challenged the proof of a physical world. He deduced that nothing sensed, which seems quite real, can actually be proved as existing at all. Everything one experiences in life can be nothing more than a series of illusions, designed to trick one into belief in a false reality. The only thing that one can prove as a certainty is that the brain – a physical organ of the body – produced these images as thought; and because the one who possessed the thoughts of the brain knew them – the soul that gave life to a body – the thoughts were proof that the one receiving the thoughts indeed existed.

Descartes is considered a dualist. “The main influences for Dualism were theology (soul) and physics (body) and how the two interact.” (Wikipedia) In this sense, Descartes concluded that two were necessary to make one functional unit: a body needs a soul for life; and a body needs a brain for life functions. One of this necessary pair controls the physical actions (the brain), while the other influences those bodily actions to be spiritually inclined (the soul). Descartes would advance this idea in a later work, Passions of the soul.

I have been reminded of René Descartes’ philosophy while contemplating the Genesis story of God testing Abraham, by instructing Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. It causes trauma in some who read this story, thinking that God would test humans in such a dangerous manner. I wondered how that can ever be a problem for those who are far from being like Abraham, so unpriestly, so lacking in devotion to God, that most people in the world today (I presume over 99%) would never hear the divine voice of God suggesting any scenario. Why, then, would God testing Abraham be so traumatic?

If that is difficult for some to swallow, due to belief in an “All-Loving God,” then I imagine they equally struggle with Matthew’s telling how Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) To further that statement, which sounds so contrary to the beloved nature we think of when we think of Jesus, Jesus then paraphrased the prophet Micah, saying:

“For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.” (Micah 7:6)

Jesus was saying he would fulfill that prophecy, in the same sense that Jesus would test the devotion of human beings to God, just as God tested Abraham. From that realization that Jesus spoke for God, just as God spoke to Abraham, God said through Jesus, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

Abraham gave up his life when he heard God tell him to leave Ur and go to where the LORD would lead him. Since that was well before the presence of Jesus of Nazareth (born in Bethlehem), Abraham gave up his life for the sake of God and the birth of the Mind of Christ. That made Abraham a prototype of Jesus Christ and, thus, Abraham found eternal life through that sacrifice of his former life. Abraham was a priest, and Jesus was one too; the difference being Abraham built altars and made sacrifices to the LORD, while Jesus was a rabbi, teaching disciples to make willing sacrifices of themselves to the LORD.

Also consider the writing of Mark, where Jesus went into a home in Nazareth to avoid the crowd he attracted. Jesus had gained so much attention that those flocking to his entourage had become so large that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat a meal without being disturbed. The scribes of Jerusalem were there, claiming Jesus was possessed, such that Jesus’ family came to remove him from that house. They sent someone inside the house to call upon Jesus to leave and go with them. We then read as Mark tells:

“A crowd was sitting around [Jesus], and they said to [Jesus], “Behold, your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you.” Answering them, [Jesus] said, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Looking about at those who were sitting around him, [Jesus] said, “Behold my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”’ (Mark 3:32-35)

Those words of Jesus explain that Abraham was doing the will of God, without regard to outside opinion. Certainly, had Abraham heard God tell him to kill his only son in a ritual sacrifice to the LORD and had Abraham then called a family conference to discuss the matter first, before acting upon God’s instructions, then Sarah and Isaac might have tried to sway Abraham to go against the will of God. Abraham did not do that because it is not the place of the slave-priest to question the master that is God. Likewise, Jesus refused to leave his disciples and go against the will of God. Therefore, one has to be tested as to one’s devotion to God, by going against those on earth who one loves most. It would be too easy to show one’s obedience, if God only asked a disciple to kill those the disciple feared and thought were contrary to belief in God.

Such unquestioned obedience explains the story of Abraham taking Isaac to land of Moriah as a sacrifice, as all priests to God will be asked to choose, “Who do you serve?” The choices are two: God or self.  This is the dualism of which René Descartes pondered.

Another way of seeing this dualism is the brain’s dilemma of choosing between the influences of Satan (urges to serve self) or the thoughts received to obey righteousness (God’s influence).  When the scribes of Jerusalem were saying Jesus was possessed by Beelzebub, they saw his righteous acts as inspired by evil.  Jesus responded to them with the parable of a house divided will fall. We read:

“And He called them to himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.” (Mark 3:23-27)

The meaning of that comparison was that those who loved the title of “God’s chosen people” were fighting over who they thought God chose most. The leaders of the Temple and the leaders of the people (Pharisees and rabbis) had to stick together to find their lives being rewarded on a material plane, while they fought hard to quiet any who said they spoke for God on earth. Those who followed the leaders became the weak links, or the bad mortar, which would cause a house to fall. The house that stuck together with the bond of God within could resist all attacks upon its foundations.

Because Abraham is considered to be the father of those people who were promised to become a great nation, those who would fulfill that role were not simply offspring of Abraham. The Arabs were such descendants, but they never possessed the quality of complete devotion to God. Moses would try for forty years, conditioning the Israelites to stop seeking to find an individual life of importance, instead to lose their individuality of self, by total sacrifice to God … through compliance to written laws. That plan had failed when the Israelites sought to have kings and be like other nations. Thus, the Jews of Galilee and Judea were already from a fallen house … trying to defend the fallen rubble surrounding a rebuilt Temple. They were far from being the brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of Abraham, willing to follow their father to their own sacrifices. Therefore, the parable told by Jesus spoke of that lack of faith and solidarity.

While it is easy for me to see God’s test of Abraham, in the instruction to make Isaac a holy sacrifice to the LORD, as a basic requirement of all who seek to serve God, the image of that story is hard for today’s Christian to digest. Any outcries about how a loving God would never call upon anyone to give up on a loved one, as if God would test Christians or Jews by making them lose a son or daughter, father or mother, husband or wife, is like those outside the house where Jesus dined, who complained from ignorance. Their complaints and calls only showed the lack of faith that Jesus saw in Galilee.

Had Abraham actually killed Isaac in a holy sacrifice, who knows what reward Abraham would have received? Who can say how his story would have changed? Isaac might have been resurrected by God, in order to show death of the body, to be reborn of the Spirit, is nothing to worry about. However, the stopping of the sacrifice by an angel of the LORD, to replace Isaac with a ram, IS in effect symbolic of Isaac’s resurrection. Isaac then was modeling that story of Jesus still to come.

The problem with reading stories from antiquity is we normally interpret them as historic, and firmly attached to a distant past. We can make assumptions now, from a time far removed, which sees evolution and adaptation in God. A flow of knowledge has been inherited by us, which gives modern Christians a sense of higher mind, simply because “We know some things.” We think the God of old is not the same God of today. We have a loving God, who is the Father of a loving Christ, and all good things come from God and Christ. However, God has not changed at all and Jesus Christ told us (along with the Apostles’ writings) that thinking God is there to serve all mankind, regardless of their sins, is a trap that is set by Satan.

God is all-loving to those whose souls are in an all-loving relationship with God. One who is an all-loving relationship with God serves God willingly, from their hearts. Such all-loving servants do whatever God instructs, without questioning God’s motivation or purpose. If God says, “Sacrifice your only son to Me, at the place I tell you,” a true servant simply says, “Will do.” End of definition for “all-loving priest to the One God.” An all-loving God requires a multitude of loving slaves to do the work of God, in order to bring more souls to fall in love with God.

Males and females must hold a lamp in their hearts for God.

A marriage between a Christian and God produces the offspring of Christ – Jesus reborn. This birth cannot be possible without the marriage of a human heart to God, with complete subservience to the Husband (God) by the wife (any human). The reward of that union is the Christ Mind born again, which replaces the individual human brain with a mind that does not question the guidance of the LORD. Abraham, Jesus, all the Apostles, and all the others of complete devotion to God in the Holy Bible were the wives of the LORD, with the Mind of Christ causing them to answer every call by their Master, by saying “Here I am!”

Because modern Christians have become confused about what a relationship with God requires, we read the Biblical stories and cannot relate. We need explanation, which often adds to the confusion we feel. Instead of an all-loving heart for the One God, we have closed hearts. We are filled with doubts, rather than understanding. Abraham and Jesus seem like impossible to grasp characters who must have lived in simpler times, when everything available today was absent. We cannot see how Abraham could go to the brink of murdering his son, and we have no clue why Jesus would talk so meanly about his family. We do not realize that the sword Jesus brought was a sacrificial knife or slaughter knife.

This is where the philosophy of René Descartes comes into play. We need to stop thinking in terms of the antiquity of Biblical stories. We need to see all the imagery that comes from Scripture as the illusions of a world that cannot be proved. For as real as Abraham and Jesus appear, they must be discounted as tricks our brain is playing on us. The trick is the distance we feel, from distant times to now. Time is the illusion, as there is only now. Everything is only relative to now.

In terms of René Descartes’ philosophical conclusion to the tricks of the mind, we need to conclude that because I think of the Abraham story, I am that story. That story is not about any illusory characters, it is about me.

For anyone who has ever investigated the realm of dream analysis, the common explanation of meaningful dreams is that every character in our dreams is a reflection of our personality – our self. The brain is processing a message from a higher mind (God) to us, which we receive as metaphorical guidance. We have to then remember the dream’s specifics, and look at the symbolism the dream elements project. As such, prophetic dreams can be seen as verification of Descartes: “I think, therefore I am.” The dream’s play is a message only relative to me.

This means that every story in the Holy Bible that one encounters is a call to each individual to personally contemplate: How do I see myself in this story, song, parable, or history? A story of Abraham being called to sacrifice Isaac has only to do with God calling the individual to sacrifice his or her own ego, as a test of his or her subservience to God. Every story in the Bible that one reads, or hears read aloud, is intended for each individual brain that receives that dream to interpret it on the level of self. When one imagines Jesus sitting inside a house in Galilee, saying, “Here are my brothers and sisters,” God is asking, “Where are you in relationship to God? How are you inside the house and how are you outside?” When one sees the illusion of Jesus saying, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword,” can you see how God is once again calling you to make a self-sacrifice to righteousness?

The question boils down to the brain-soul union. If one has not yet become married to God, through deep-seated love in one’s heart, one struggles to understand the messages of dreams and Scripture. Jesus sat inside a house where he was surrounded by those willing to listen to the Mind of Christ, which speaks for the Father, as a subservient wife to the LORD. The disciples heard the call of God and answered, “Here I am.” Those outside the house were the distractions of the world, which are always calling one to turn your back on that holy inner voice and remember those who will support your life’s return to sin.

Descartes’ conclusion was like asking, “Do you believe the illusions of the brain are external to you; or do you believe those imaginary characters are designed to enlighten you to a higher self?” We must ask, “How am I Abraham?” Still, we must also ask, “How am I Isaac? How am I the angel of the LORD? “ and “How am I the ram caught in the thicket?” If we struggle with this story, we are full of doubt. However, if we can see ourselves in each character, we will conclude like René Descartes: “I think, therefore I am.”

“Here I am, LORD,” we must reply to the call. We must understand that the LORD will provide (land of Moriah) for those who are obedient and subservient. Through the Mind of Christ we know the meaning of Scripture instantly. Thus we conclude, “I think righteously, therefore I am filled with the Holy Spirit.”

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Jesus and the young rich man

(This article is based on Matthew 19:16-30 and Mark 10:17-31.)

This morning, as I readied myself for church, one of those out-of-the-blue thoughts came to me. The voice inside my head said, “The rich young man who asked Jesus how he could ensure he would go to heaven was not simply rich with worldly possessions. He was rich in knowledge of the Laws of Moses.” I was then asked to ponder this encounter, told by Matthew and Mark, in terms of one whose greatest asset was his brain and the wealth of influence that gave him over others.

Now, in my mind, this unidentified young man of wealth was Nicodemus. I have reached this conclusion because of hints found in the Gospels. In John’s Gospel, Nicodemus was identified as “a Pharisee” and “a ruler of the Jews.” Some translations say Nicodemus was a member of the assembly or the “ruling counsel.” This identification makes one assume that Nicodemus was a man of power; and with power comes material gains.

Of course, the element of youth is implied in John’s recollection of Nicodemus. While only Matthew identified the rich man who encountered Jesus as young, when he wrote, “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth,” the word “young” needs to be understood as meaning thirty-something. Just as Jesus was young by being in his early thirties when he began his ministry, he too was wealthy at an early age. That age allowed Jesus to have both a position of material wealth (have one’s needs easily met) and also have enough education to be considered intellectually rich – thus a teacher.

Someone like Nicodemus being chosen by the other “elders” in the ruling counsel of Pharisees can imply he was “junior ruler,” which would be an indication of his youth. As one of younger age, he could (minimally) walk faster than the counsel members of greater age. After 6:00 PM, following the end of the Passover Festival (a Shabbat), when Jews were allowed to travel as far as Bethany (1.5 miles from Jerusalem), a young Pharisee would be capable of leaving the Temple area and following Jesus to Lazarus’ and Martha’s house. Once there, a young Pharisee would be able to encounter Jesus and ask him about joining with the other Pharisees, and then still get back home before sunset. That becomes an implication of Nicodemus being a young man.

Of course, the great wealth of Nicodemus was pointed out by John in the amount of expensive nard he took with him and Joseph of Arimathea, when Jesus’ body was prepared for entombment. Because of these two stories told by John, I see Nicodemus as a rich young man who had plenty of guilt to shoulder, because he was a rich man. While so few stories naming Nicodemus make it hard to nail down his true character, many see him as one of the Pharisees who saw Jesus as a holy man, one not justly condemned to death. However, I see this willingness to judge Nicodemus in a light of sympathizer, who can only silently and secretly support Jesus, as why that model fits precisely the story of the rich man who encountered Jesus about going to heaven.

Nicodemus can then be seen as silently and secretly referred to in the Gospels. In the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican [Tax Collector], the fictitious Pharisee could have been modeled from Jesus having seen Nicodemus praying at the Temple. When Luke wrote, “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get,’” this sounds like how the rich man told Jesus, “All these [rules] I have kept since I was a boy.”

What is missed (perhaps) in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector is how the Pharisee got rich in exactly the same manner as the tax collector, as he was paid a portion of the Temple tax because he was a member of the ruling counsel. That form of tax collection was “kosher,” while a Jew collecting taxes from other Jews, for the Roman overlords (and getting rich by keeping part for one’s self), was how Pharisees identified one as a sinner. At the Pharisee’s “day job” he could have also gained wealth as a “lawyer” advising ordinary Jews in how to get back in good standing with the Temple priests and scribes (for a nominal fee). Both Pharisee and publican gained materially at the expense of the common Jews, thus both were sinners. However, Jesus deemed the one of the two who saw his acts as a sin as “justified before God.”  As such, the rich man approached Jesus as one seeking justification.

Understanding the concept that wealth was not typically found by Jews because of some royal lineage, it was most often accumulated as ill-gotten gains. The Jews were, after all, returned to Judea after exile and disgrace. Thus, accumulated wealth had come to many Jews because of their selling the Laws of Moses, as devout Jews to Jews seeking favor from God. Because the man who encountered Jesus knew the Laws of Moses so well, he was also a rich man in the fact that he had memorized and pondered the Scriptures (rich in knowledge). Because he was a religious leader, to whom many ordinary Jews looked up to for guidance, God rewarded him with great material wealth. However, when he met Jesus and asked if he was on the right path to heaven, he was told he was headed in the right direction … but.

The exception is the path to heaven only begins with some wealth of interest and personal acts of devotion. Such acts set one apart from those who do little to learn about their religion. Still, amassing knowledge of spiritual matters is only the first step towards eternal life.

Consider how Jesus asked Nicodemus, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?” (John 3:10a)  Nicodemus – a member of the ruling counsel and for all the laws he knew – was not “born of the Spirit.” Knowing some things is much like owning some things. Things make one “rich” – rich of knowledge and rich of possessions – but “rich” alone is selfish and does not serve God. To get to the place that God lives eternally, one needs to follow the advice Jesus gave the rich man.

The second step on the path to heaven requires going beyond wealth of knowledge, to the point of sharing that knowledge freely. This step, told by Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, has been translated as being: “sell your possessions and give (the money) to the poor.” Some versions say “and give the money to the poor,” when neither Matthew nor Mark made mention of “money.” However, money aside, that selling of things is really not what Jesus said.

The Greek word translated as “sell” is “pōlēson.” Both Matthew and Mark wrote the same word; and while that word does mean “sell,” it also can be used to say “barter” or “exchange.” Following “pōlēson” is the word translated as “possessions,” which is “hyparchonta.” Only Matthew wrote this word, with the root infinitive meaning, “to begin, to be ready or at hand, to be.” Strong’s says the “short definition” states, “I am, exist, am in possession.” This means that “sell your possessions” can become a statement to “exchange your possessing self” or “barter of you what exists.”

Mark said (without using the word “hyparchonta”), “hosa echeis pōlēson,” which is translated commonly as “sell what you have,” where the root verb “echó” means “to have, hold, possess.” Still, this is not the only way that can be read, as this literally states, “as much as you have exchange.” When wealth is seen as the vast knowledge of Scripture the rich man possessed, Jesus was telling him the next step is to stop making himself rich in material things, based on Scriptural knowledge. He was told to let others know what he knew. This is then mirroring what Matthew said, when he used the word “hyparchonta.”

What is very easy to overlook is how Jesus addressed the rich man from a perspective of “love.” Mark wrote how Jesus “ēgapēsen auton,” how Jesus “loved him,” when he told the rich man, “Hen se hysterei” – “One thing is lacking” – which addressed the missing element that is step two. “Hen” is a form of the number “One,” such that “thing” is intuited; but the meaning is “alone, individually,” or pointing out how “one act” of devotion (learning) is “falling short” (“hysterei“) of the heavenly goal. To ensure eternal life, more is required.

When one sees that Jesus did not expect the young rich man to go auction off everything he owned, and then keep a record of how much money he got in return, so he could then go door-to-door handing out money in poor neighborhoods, one then sees how Jesus told the man the second step after knowing the Laws of Moses is to use that knowledge to change himself. That change is then stated to mean giving. Instead of keeping what you know to yourself, as if your big brain is your greatest possession – as if what I know equates into what I am worth (I am educated to be a lawyer, so I can live as a rich lawyer) – give so that others can find your same passion for learning Scripture, so they too will devote themselves to take the first step towards being born of the Spirit.

This then leads to whom one should give. The Greek word “ptōchois” is translated as “the poor,” but actually means, “of one who crouches and cowers.” From that, such a person is considered to be “beggarly or poor.” This means that the one who should be the recipient of one’s wealth of knowledge is not so much one poor of wealth and riches, but one “spiritually poor” and “humble devout person” (definitions of “ptōchois”). When this word is understood in these ways, this is how attempting to interpret Jesus’ instructions as materially based makes the story of the rich man hard to accomplish. That is why giving money to people in beggarly conditions will never be a permanent solution to their physical needs.

If a rich man were to give all of his material wealth and worldly riches to a thousand people, he would have just created one more materially poor person in the world – himself. Further, those poor who received their gift of free things would still be poor, or return to poverty soon after. If a rich man were to give all of his material wealth and worldly riches to just one person who was poor, the world would not have changed – one rich man and one poor man would still exist. There is no permanent solution to material poverty, short of making everyone in the world equally rich (an impossibility). Thus, the moral of the story of Jesus and the rich man makes more sense when one sees Jesus telling the young rich man to give spiritual riches to the spiritually poor.

When Jesus made the statement about it being easier for a camel to get through the eye of the needle than a rich man to get into heaven, he used the term “plousion.” That use certainly implies one of material wealth (“a rich man”). Because that statement astonished the disciples, prompting them to wonder how anyone could ever get to heaven then – without riches – they displayed a belief that God rewarded the devout with worldly riches. They thought it was a requirement to find wealth on earth, which would then be their assurance of piety and eternal life.

Jesus told them that wealth alone made it impossible to get to heaven. Only with God’s help did all things become possible. Peter then asked, “What about us?” He and the other eleven disciples had turned their backs on all manners of money-making, in order to attend to the needs of Jesus in his ministry. Jesus’ response to Peter was, in essence, “You are on step two now, but your assurance of eternal life will come when the third step is complete.”  He further said, “You are in the process of walking behind me, but you need to follow me by becoming me.

Matthew wrote that response as, “Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” That translation (NIV) has “en tē palingenesia,” meaning, “at the renewal of all things,” but it actually says, “in the regeneration.” That means the learning and giving of knowledge will pay off in Apostleship and the promise of eternal life, when one has been “reborn” as the Son of Man – i.e.: filled with the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew’s verse 29 (of Chapter 19), Jesus was clearly saying that being filled with the Holy Spirit was what got one to heaven; but the element of giving to the poor, in order to get the Holy Spirit, is still relatively misunderstood. What happened to the rich young man after he went away sad? Are Christians today expected to live lives of poverty, in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

Modern Christian churches steer clear of making personal wealth an issue, as far as salvation, possessing the Holy Spirit, and being promised a ticket to heaven are concerned. After all, churches need donations to exist; and wealthy patrons are greatly in need. No church wants to bite the hands that feed.

This becomes a double-edged sword, where it is the love of money that is the root of all evil (not the possession of money) on one edge, and the necessity of money in a material world on the other.  It becomes an issue of the misuse of money that is hurtful to one’s soul: to force one’s moral will onto others on the other. The issue that Jesus pointed out actually has nothing to do with money. It has to do with the individual’s service to God.

The rich man was wealthy because he served God, and God had rewarded him. It was the love of the individual’s devotion that moved Jesus to tell the rich man to go beyond measuring his grace in comparison to others who had more or less things. Jesus told the individual to exchange the rewards he had been given by giving likewise unto others. The rich man never gave God any of his coins or property, in order for him to receive coins and property from God; so the rich man was to give that which God favored – his devotion to learn. God gave him insights to share with others, so they would desire to know more about God also. The more people sought God, the more they all would be rewarded materially and spiritually, so they all could spread more spiritual desire.

The focus on this story as being only about material riches means men and women feel their ticket to heaven can be bought through monetary contributions. If I write a will that leaves everything to the church, I can live out my life comfortably until then.  If I give 10% faithfully, then I can hoard the other 90% (less taxes) selfishly.  Such attitudes means the wealthy can be reborn Nicodemuses – silent and secret donors, never made to feel the guilt of feeling secure with eternal life, while others beat their chests in agony, unable to afford those golden tickets.

Isn’t it better to be a reborn Jesus?

When Jesus said, “I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God,” the focus is on the degree of difficulty in reaching a goal, not the impossibility. The “camel through the eye of the needle” meant a fully laden camel – laden with possessions and wares to sell – that had to be unloaded at a narrow gate in the wall of Jerusalem (called “the eye of the needle”). It can be done, but it requires labor and time. The same goal attainment is possible for rich men reaching the kingdom of God, but the work required is more than physical labor. It requires breaking down all mental blocks that keeps one from receiving the Holy Spirit.

A fully laden mind is what I call the Big Brain. It is loaded with everything one has ever learned, most of which is survival motivated. Our brains are trained to look for advantages for us, rather than share openly with complete strangers. Our brains teach us to see self first and others second.

If only knowledge was simply rolls of possessions and packaged wares that were strapped to our heads, which could be untied and unloaded when our Big Brains reached a small portal we needed to get through (like the one leading to the kingdom of God).  That would make it easier to have a basic brain be filled with the Holy Spirit, so one could swiftly pass through the eye of the needle to heaven. Unfortunately, we keep packing on to what we know, so our heads swell so large that we feel we know God … and (worst of all) think God works for us.

The message of Forrest Gump was that one man’s simple mind had no desires to get rich. Forrest was too stupid to know how to get rich. Yet, for all that lack of knowledge, Forrest could not keep from getting rich in material ways. Everything he did turned to gold. Still, Forrest had a small brain; and no matter how much others put worth and value on his worldly possessions, he was still just a simple man … willing to help strangers by sharing his story. Money never led his actions.  Forrest’s real wealth was his heart led him brain – he knew what love is.  The Big Brain never bothered him, so that he became silently and secretly wealthy.

That was what the voice told me as I prepared to go to church this morning. “See how much sharing these insights with others is worth,” is what I heard, regardless of how little seeds of thought seem to pay in material measures. “Think about this and then write about it,” I was told. “Share this view so that others can benefit.”

The world would be a nice place if everyone was equally materially rich. Then, no one would have to worry about giving so that others could have. Likewise, the world would be a nice place if everyone was equally spiritually rich. Then no one would have to worry about making sure if one would get to heaven … as everyone would already be there.

Since we have not yet reached that utopia, I hear the voice inside my head. “Here I am,” once again giving it away.

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You reap as you have been sown

Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

—————————————————————————————————-

Here, in this pared down reading, a valuable conversation between Jesus and his disciples is omitted. They questioned why Jesus spoke in parables to the ignorant masses, because everything Jesus told those crowds flew well over their heads. The disciples understood the meaning (usually), but they wondered why Jesus did not speak in easy to understand language.

Jesus told his disciple that they had been allowed to understand by a higher power, due to their devotion to Jesus and his message. Paul explained that ability to understand as such: “You are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (Romans 8:9a) Jesus told them, “Blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.” (Matthew 13:16) This means a test of one’s being “in the Spirit” is how well one understands Scripture – Torah, Psalms, Prophets, and Jesus parables.

When Matthew wrote, “Such great crowds gathered around [Jesus] that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach,” can you see the symbolism of a boat in Christianity? With Jesus sitting in a boat, was he not symbolizing how he promised to turn his disciples (James and John of Zebedee) into “fishers of men”? Do you realize the “bark of Saint Peter” is the symbol of a ship as the Church of Rome? Do you understand that the “nave” of a church is designed to symbolize the inside of a ship (upside down)?

Notice who is doing the rowing of that boat.

Jesus explained to his disciple by quoting Isaiah 6:10, where God told his prophet:

“For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.” (Matthew 13:15)

The model that modern Christianity has adopted, which attempts to mirror the ministry of Jesus, is the trained disciples taking Jesus’ place in the boat, speaking in parables to the ignorant masses on the beach. This model is further reflected in how the “pulpit” is (by definition) “a raised platform in the bow of a fishing boat or whaler.” Of course, the pews become the white sandy beaches of a seacoast, where sermons drift over the listeners like warm and salty ocean breezes and the words sound as comforting as seagulls cawing overhead. The water becomes the barrier that keeps the masses from trying to act like a sea captain.

Don’t ya just love the message here?

A “sermon” today becomes like a parable, when all listeners are expected to interpret metaphor, catchy phrases, and the life experiences of a priest-pastor-minister as comparisons to Biblical stories. Too often, an oration (12 minutes or 1.5 hours) is boldly spoken as if everything read aloud in church is being explained as it was intended to be understood. However, many sermons come across like someone saying, “I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 10,” or “1 and a million” – depending on the complexity of the sermon. It seems I frequently come up with the wrong number, or I get lost contemplating the values of only a couple of numbers in the range, before the sermon is over.

Whoops … another sermon flew over my head.

In a reading like the one from Matthew above, it seems clear to me that Jesus is testing the abilities of the masses to understand – without explanation. I imagine how then is like now; and I imagine when Jesus finished telling the Parable of the Sower, he rowed to shore and stood there shaking the hands of all the masses as they passed by. I imagine Jesus would hear things like this:

“Nice sermon rabbi,” says one.
“Thanks. What did the parable of the sower mean to you?” asks Jesus.
“Makes me want to go home and do some gardening,” is the reply, with a smile.
“Hmmm,” ponders Jesus, before asking, “Would you mind speaking from the boat to the masses next Sabbath?”
“Oh no, rabbi!” Jesus is told. “I could never do what you are doing. Besides, we love you being there for us. We love the imagery of your parables.”

The reason I imagine that today is because priests-pastors-ministers today read Paul and think Paul wrote to the ignorant masses, just like Jesus attracted. That assumes everyone sitting in the pews is filled with the Holy Spirit, because Paul would say some confusing things and then abruptly say, “But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

Yes!!!  Thank yo brother Paul.  I needed to hear that!

I knew I was saved! Thank you Jesus!

How often have you head a reading in church and thought, “Oh no. I hope I won’t be pointed out as a sinner in church today,” only to have the priest-pastor-minister kindly say, “But I’m not talking about anyone here today, because we are all filled with the Holy Spirit’?

Whew. That was close.

The news flash is this: Christianity is not about selfish contentment through absolution by berobed speakers. Christians are not filled with the Holy Spirit by eating wafers, sipping wine, or having their political persuasions stroked by the words of a sermon.

A Christian is Christ in a body that does not look like Jesus; but a Christian is Jesus reborn, through the Christ. This is what Paul said, when he wrote: “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

You see, Paul was writing to those who were all filled with the Holy Spirit, so he could abruptly say, “But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

The crux of the matter is that being a Christian has absolutely nothing to do with what someone says or surmises, based on what someone believes. A Christian’s body is no longer ruled by sin … PERIOD. There is no need to recite a confession of sin, when one is truly a Christian.  The actions of a Christian are only righteous. Therefore, a Christian is a Saint.

To be a Saint, one does the same things Jesus did. You go into the boat and preach to the ignorant masses. You teach those who believe you are a manifestation of the Christ to also be Saints. You pass onto those disciples, through their faith, a holy allowance to understand God’s Word. You understand that a refusal to welcome a test, in particular as to meaning of Scripture, means you are not a Christ, but one of the ignorant masses.

It is the either-or principle. The only gray matter in-between comes from being drawn to be near a Saint. However, since gawking and rubbernecking are common amongst the ignorant masses, just because they have eyes and ears does not mean they have a mind that can make sense of righteousness.

The ignorant masses represent every place where seeds of thought, like those being sown by Jesus in his parables, land and take root. The crack in rocks, where the seed grows into joy … for a short time … quickly fades away when the heat is on.
When they have to stand up to protesters at the state capitol, when the atheists are demanding laws that protect their rights, while trampling on the rights of the religious, they run away. Those parts of the ignorant masses that take root amongst thorns are those who are pathological sinners, looking for someone to accept their filthy selves as is, without demands for them to change. This is not merely the drug addicts and hookers, but also the pushers and pimps of all industries, who make a living using people so they can be rich. They only appear to grow when they think they have been washed clean of sin, simply by the fact Jesus came into the world 2,000 years ago. However, they quickly run away from all calls to righteousness, when sin becomes opportunity to do as one pleases.

The good soil can be in the crowd of ignorant masses. After all, that is where the disciples came from. Despite the allowances given to them they were still fairly dense, to much of what Jesus said to them. At the last Seder meal, they were asking Jesus to tell them the address for his Father, because it dawned on them that Jesus never told them what town God lived in. When Jesus was arrested and executed, all those brave disciples were trying their best to blend in with the ignorant masses. Still, they were good soil, because they had been tilled and prepared to give strong root to the seeds of thought Jesus gave them … through the Christ Mind from the Holy Spirit.

When those seeds of thought took root, the eleven grew into Saints. They were the first Christians, as Christ first returned in each of them, the day after he Ascended. By 10:00 AM on Pentecost Day, Christ returned in 3,000 others who were parts of the ignorant masses, but they were willing to be educated as to the meaning of that they worked so hard studying. So much of it seemed like questions without answers, because they were led by those whose roots were in bad soil.

What was then is still the way of today. People want a religion that is simple and easy. They want parables explained to them, so they do not have to figure anything out. If someone has told them what they want to hear and they happily go about thinking they are going to heaven (filthy with the sins they think are washed clean), only to have someone speak to them from the holy boat offshore:

“The kingdom of heaven has come near. Repent and follow Jesus,” the Saint says.

“I don’t believe you,” they shout. “If it says I am going the wrong way, then why doesn’t it say that in the Bible, or why didn’t some priest-pastor-minister tell me before?”

That is when you knock the dust off you sandals and say, “Have a nice life.” Then walk away.

P.S.
As far as parables go, you do known why Jesus told the disciple to do that when rejected by Jews who did not want to hear about permanent repentance being a requirement for entrance into heaven, right?

The ignorant masses are ignorant to anything beyond this world. They work so hard getting what they have gotten that they never want to hear anyone tell them, “You must give all that up and take a leap of faith.” So, when they tell a Saint, “Scram!” it is polite to make sure the Saint does not walk away and take anything that the ignorant have sold their soul for … not even the dust from their doorstep. Leave it. They own it. The ignorant masses deserve everything this world has to offer them.

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The mother of all sin

In the cable show Fargo that aired recently (season 3, episode 9), the character V. M. Varga said:

“The problem is not that there is evil in the world. The problem is that there is good. Because otherwise, who would care?”

The Coen brothers are known for making statements about evil in their productions. Their dialogues have been food for thought, which means they have put thought into preparing that food for our digestion.

Recently, I wrote that the world is the mother of all sin. Because of that, we human beings are all born of sin. Certainly, sin can be lovely and enticing. It is like the lure of a Las Vegas vacation: lots of flashing lights and fancy food, but at a cost most people cannot afford. Think of how Satan presented the world to Jesus and said, “All these things I will give you, if you fall down and worship me.” Sounds like the slogan, “What happens in the world stays in the world.” If the sin of the world was ugly and readily recognizable as evil, it would be difficult to offer its bounties as payment for a soul.

Let me point out that mortality is the gift of sin (or curse). The “reward” of reincarnation keeps most of the world’s sinners coming back to Momma Sin (time and time again). This life, past lives and future lives (for as long as mankind has existed) are the never-ending phonograph records of souls failing to be like Jesus and say, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”

The character V. M. Varga spoke a sinner’s truth, which is a lie, as a half-truth. The world was created as the antithesis of Heaven – which is a Spiritual place, not the endless void of outer space, dotted by star lights and galaxies of elemental matter.  Heaven is God.

The half of his statement that is true is focused on the animal version of Man being in the world. Animal Man was created on the “sixth day” … late in that “day” … at which point animal Man (and animal Female) was given dominion over everything else that lived in the world (flora and fauna). There was no good Man in the world then. Thus, there was no one to judge how animal Man went about in that domination. Good Man came on the “seventh day,” which Yahweh deemed holy.

Keep in mind that these “days” have absolutely nothing to do with the third rock from the sun’s axial revolution – a 24-hour rotation. This means the “seventh day” alone be what those who do not believe in dinosaurs calculate, when they say the world is only 6,000 year old … give or take a century or two. God “days” can only be estimated by carbon dating techniques and other scientific methods, as being representative of eons of time. However, sin (or V. M. Varga’s “evil”) can be seen as a “modern” twist in the Creation theme.

Genesis 1 does not include the story of the battle between the angels, where one angel (“the dragon” – some call him Lucifer, Satan, or the devil) led a third of the angels to resist God’s order to serve Good Man, once Adam became mortal. One must assume this war took place after Good Man had been seeded into the world and animal Man began to judge right from wrong, given knowledge of good and evil. Still, in many places in the Holy Bible one finds referenced angels, cherubim and the like. When were they created, if not “in the beginning”?

Genesis 1:1 does begin with the Hebrew words: “bə·rê·šîṯ bā·rā ’ĕ·lō·hîm,” which literally translate to state, “in the beginning created gods.” When one assumes the Creator of gods could only be the One God, then the “gods” (“elohim”) created would explain the Creation of the angels. It would then be logical to assume it was they who helped God with His master plan for Creation. Therefore, it was angels who made animal Man (male and female they made them) in “their image” and it was those angels who determined their six “days” work to be “good.” That means the angels knew the difference between being a mortal and being eternal with the One God, such that the difference between right and wrong has always been determined by one’s proximity to the One God.

This means the false half of Mr. Varga’s assumption – that evil existed with Creation – is wrong. Animal Man acted in natural ways, just as all animals do. They kill prey, steal the prey killed by others or steal eggs from nests, run off weaker family members, eat their young, etcetera, etcetera; but they do not do those acts unless they are necessary for survival and the preservation of the balance of nature. Evil requires forethought but Good requires hindsight, where looking back has never been a strength possessed by the animal brain. This means the Big Brain of evil Man began when Good Man fell to the earth. This is symbolized by the story of Cain and Abel.

Still, as with Eve’s temptation, mortal Man needs prompting to do evil, as evil is not natural.  Ergo the slithering snake in the grass (offspring of “the dragon”) still finds a way to use craftiness to influence small minds.

If one recalls how the serpent in the garden with Adam and Eve was considered the craftiest (shrewdest, most subtle, wisest) beast of the field, then one can see how small the brains were in Adam and Eve. As direct creations of Yahweh, to serve Him as Good Man (and Female), in a world that was being filled with an animal form of mankind, God taught His simpleton children rules. “Do not eat of the fruit that yields a Big Brain” was the biggie. The serpent (the devil in the form of the craftiest beast) used his Big Brain to convince the little brained, good and holy, Adam and Eve to break that rule.  Once they sinned, the pair became too smart for Heaven on earth.  They were cast out of Eden (and the serpent lost his legs).

The “original sin” was to go against God’s rules.  However, only Good Man knew those rules.  That means Adam and Eve had to go into the world of animal Man and let them know about God and rules.

I once compared Adam and Eve to children told not to eat a cookie from the cookie jar … the one placed right in front of them on an easy to reach table … just before the parents would walk away, leaving the invitation of sweet cookies for small brains to refrain from taking.  Temptation would be the sole culprit for such innocent ones breaking the rule just set.

I said, “God knew they would break that rule,” to which one woman shrieked, “How did God know that!”

I said, “God is omniscient (All-Knowing).”  Duh.

That realization allows one to see how God intended on Adam and Eve growing big brains, so they could survive in a world that was to become the mother of all sin. Adam and Eve represented the good that was identified as a problem by V. M. Varga.  Adam and Eve were made holy – by the hand of Yahweh – so knowledge of Good and Evil could be shared by all mankind.

That also means God knew beforehand how the rule He gave to His angels (His elohim) – who were instructed to serve Good Man in the quest to preach a message of redemption to Heaven, by resisting a world of evil – would likewise be broken. God knew beforehand how the third of the angels would be led by “the dragon” in rebellion – the War of the Angels.  God knew beforehand they would lose that war and be cast into the depths of the earth – making the Earth forevermore the mother of all sin.  God knew “the dragon” would be the prefect tester of faith.

Knowledge of Good and Evil – of Right and Wrong – of Obedience and Rebellion – is the only way to get out of this revolving theme of birth, death, and repeat until the end of time. We have to know the rules of Good. We have to realize that reincarnation only works as a desirable place to visit, as long as some Big Brains have not designed a way to destroy paradise, so that it stops supporting life.  However, simply knowing some rules is not enough to escape this cycle.

A Big Brain can just as easily be tricked by the craftiness of the world’s lure, as was Eve being told she could be God’s equal if she just broke one rule. Animal Man is not strong enough mentally to force himself to only do Good. Will power is weak and unable to have lasting focus. Try willing yourself to hold your breath until death and see how well that works. This means sin is impossible to will away. Add to that complication how Satan will never serve Man, knowing how easy it is to trick Man into deserving punishment from God.

Because Satan will always present Man with the gifts of mortality, as lures tempting animal Man to sell his soul to him, Man needs the help of God. This is where the Holy Spirit offers that protection. Becoming an Apostle of Jesus Christ gives a Christian the power to tell Satan, “Away with you!” Anything less cannot pass the temptations of this world in which we live.

Look at how dejected the “rich young man” was, who asked Jesus how to guarantee his going to Heaven.  Jesus said, “You know the rules; but to get to Heaven you have to give up your addictions to the world of things and do as I do.”  The rich young man sighed, shrugged, and slithered off.

God knew Satan would forever test the faith of animal Man. Satan is the contaminant that causes the world to be the mother of all sin.  The presence of Good Man in an evil world is so animal Man can choose to become reborn as Good Man.

The presence of good in the world is not the problem Mr. Varga. It is the way out of the trap of worldly existence. Good Man was sent because God cares.

That is who cares Mr. Varga.

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Submerged into Christ Jesus

This article focuses on Romans 6:1-11, which can be read here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%206:1-11

In this reading, Paul asks the question: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” I realize that the words of Paul are not easy to understand; but think about what “baptized into His death” says.

The root Greek word “baptizó” is recognizable as “baptize,” but let us examine the true meaning of that word. According to Strong’s Concordance, the basic definition says, “I dip, sink.” The literal meaning is said to be: “I dip, submerge, but specifically of ceremonial dipping; I baptize.” That means the religious mind takes a word of basic meaning and elevates it to a ceremonial title, such that “baptize” means, “I baptize.” It assumes everyone knows that is a ceremonious sinking underwater, just as John the Baptizer did to Jews in the Jordan River.

That is part of the reason Paul is so difficult to grasp. He wrote in basic terms that are interpreted by the later mind – those who possess the Big Brain of Hindsight – as having greater than basic meaning. Paul somehow transforms from being just a normal guy that is filled with the Holy Spirit to suddenly being a pope, dressed in the finest papal robe and tiara, holding a golden scepter and silver staff.  Simple Paul speaks on such a high level that the majority of normal folk whisper to one another, “This is over my head. Thank God we have priests who know what Paul meant.”

Consider the same words written by Paul in ‘ordinary guy’ language: “Do you not know that all of us who have been submerged into Christ Jesus have been sunk into His death?”

First of all, Paul spoke as if his question could not be misunderstood by asking, “Do you not know?” He spoke to those who would easily understand what his words meant. Thus, he began chapter six with the question: “Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?”

That leads one to “grace” being another word that the Big Brain thinks it knows, but goes too far beyond a meaning easily defined by the ordinary Joe. The Greek word translated as “grace” is “charis,” which is defined in simple-to-understand terms like “favor, gratitude, thanks, and kindness.” The higher meaning is then: “a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ.”

Paul said that being submerged into Christ Jesus means our little brains have gone under the control of the Christ mind, so we act just as did Jesus. The favor of that presence … the blessing brought … is Salvation. Salvation means we have been washed clean of our past sins AND that gift means everyone who understands Paul readily agrees that going back to sin would mean rejecting that holy presence … that grace from God. No one who has submerged into Christ Jesus would return to the old ways, bobbing like a Big Brain float on the surface of the water, unable to sink.

This brings out the most confusing part, where Paul added, “all of us … were baptized into his [Jesus’] death.” We know Jesus died for our sins, but we think that means Jesus suffered death and was buried, so we can all go on sinning. All we have to do is realize when we have sinned (like reciting the Confession of Sins aloud together) and ask God for forgiveness. However, that is not the meaning of “we were sunk into his death,” after having been “submerged into Christ.”

Paul goes on to explain: “Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin.” To have ourselves also be crucified, so we too die alongside Jesus, such that “whoever has died is freed from sin,” are concepts the uninitiated struggle to grasp.  Confusion is how a Big Brain attaches baptism to death.

Certainly, human beings are not fish and cannot survive in a submerged state, when water is the element of submersion. If someone were to hold a human being underwater for more than ten minutes, that human being would drown and be dead. In that way, someone could be washed clean of sins by being executed via baptism by water … the ritual where someone dunks a willing participant’s head underwater. If Christians were killed in that act of willing sacrifice, then Judaism and Christianity would be celebrated in cemeteries, rather than synagogues and churches, with priests and pastors in prison for murder.

Realizing how this means “baptism” has absolutely nothing to do with submersion in water seems so difficult for Christians to grasp. It becomes like Consuela, the maid on Family Guy: “Baptism no water. That’s nice. I dunk clean now.”

Priests call christening with water sprinkles a sacrament, while pastors who dunk congregation members in industrial baptismal pools or go down to the local river to do it; both are making their followers believe baptism by water is the cat’s meow. This is even though John the Baptizer said, “I dip you in water. The one after me will submerge you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Getting wet does not make a Christian “baptized into  his [Jesus’] death.”

When Paul then wrote, “We have been united with him in a death like his” … because all Apostles can equally say, “Our old self was crucified with him” … think about what that means.

The Greek word “anthrōpos” was written by Paul and translated into the word “self.” The Greek word actually means “man” (parallel to the Hebrew “adam”), inferring then “human, mankind,” with the contextual reference there being the body of flesh that holds a soul within. A body without a soul is nothing more than dust or clay – matter without the spirit of life. When the English definition of “self” is then understood to mean, “The total, essential, or particular being of a person; the individual,” as well as “one’s consciousness of one’s own being or identity; the ego,” and “the distinct individuality or identity of a person or thing,” “self” or “man” is that part of a Christian-being that must suffer a death like Jesus.

Christians are expected to have already experienced that death, stated by Paul, if they can truly say they have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. The “spirit of life” (man with self) is not the same as “the Holy Spirit.” Thus, the true sacramental baptism cannot be given by a priest or pastor, as they can only symbolically mimic what God’s presence (His gift) in a human being is like. This is seen in each of the Seven Sacraments of the Universal Church.

Baptism through the Holy Spirit is like being submerged in the water of God in Christ. Confirmation through the Holy Spirit is like being able to explain why one wants to be with others of like Mind (the Mind of Christ). That Mind fills Saints with all knowledge of the prophecies of Holy Scriptures, knowledge coming from being filled with the blood of Christ, via the Holy Spirit (not seminaries).  Such understanding is then symbolized by the Eucharistic ritual of bread and wine, as the body of words that leads a disciple to be filled with the blood of Jesus – God’s Son. Confession by the Holy Spirit is the admission of sins past, made with the power and promise of never sinning again. The Healing of the Sick is a talent given to those who have the Holy Spirit, thus becoming a reproduction of Jesus Christ, with God’s healing touch the gift given. The Holy Orders of ordination means each Apostle is a Saint, as the rebirth of Jesus Christ, who then repeats a ministry that goes to others for the purpose of passing that Spirit on (as Paul did to the Christians of Rome). They preach the truth via the Holy Spirit, so the kingdom of heaven goes to them (not vice versa). Finally, Marriage is human, when on the human level of two uniting for the physical reproduction of offspring. However, marriage by the Holy Spirit comes when a human being sacrifices self (subservience), in order to become the bride of God. That holy union produces the offspring that is a reborn Jesus Christ, into the human form that has died of ego (self).

When Paul wrote, “The death he [Jesus] died, he died to sin, once for all,” Paul meant Jesus suffered in the death of his physical body only one time. The “once for all” part of that statement of truth does not mean no one else has to die. It means that, like Jesus dying only once before his resurrection, those who will pick up their crosses and follow, “in a death like his,” also only have to die once. Jesus died physically so we can die figuratively, of self. The Apostles all died in that manner, even though they were then likewise persecuted to physical death, similar to that imposed on Jesus.  That “pre-death” death is necessary, because it is the ego that will easily be tricked into following sin and make one lower his or her stake (cross) to the ground (no longer lifted up). Thus, the ego must die, so that “we will also live with him,” as him reborn.

So, as Paul wrote, “You must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” The Romans to whom Paul wrote were not trainees. They were Jews who believed the prophecy of a Messiah. They were Jews who believed Paul’s conviction that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed their Christ. Still, they were not believers in Paul. They were alive to God through a deep love in their hearts and a willingness to be subservient to their most holy husband. They were alive to God in Jesus Christ as the deaths of their egos allowed them to be reborn versions of the Savior … just as Paul was.

All this means you don’t need to worry about the way the world is heading, praying to God to save the world of the sin that has taken over. That prayer can only find the “tag, you’re it” response. The world is the mother of all sin, thus (as matter/dust) humans are all born of sin.  Jesus had died on a cross and ascended into heaven, but his absence meant his disciples would carry the torch of Christ Jesus, leading others to the kingdom of heaven, where sin does not exist. Paul too was tagged; but his imprisonment did not mean Christianity would die on the vine, because Paul spread the Gospel to thousands of new Jesus Christs. The stakes have been kept high, so the vine can bear good fruit … until today.

Today, as always, maintenance in the vineyard is necessary, so the wild grapes of sin are kept out.  Test yourself: Can you fluently understand Paul? Or, do you need it explained to you? Is it clear as mud? Or, is it crystal clear … clear as day?

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Abraham has the kingdom of heaven come near

I apologize.  I posted  a sermon here.  I have edited and re-posted it on the blog Bus top Sermons.  You can read it here: http://wp.me/p519av-sN

Sorry for the inconvenience.  My intent is to keep the posts here to just a slice of bread … not a whole loaf.

 

 

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