Tag Archives: Hope

Will of God – Nature of God’s Will (Part 1 of 4)

Introduction

What is the nature of God’s will?
The capacity (innate) and ability (permitted by circumstances) to express one’s will is sacrosanct. God the Creator first revealed His will by the act of creation recorded in Genesis.
When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them the freedom to choose and exercise their free will. God embodied the great significance of their free will in the only rule in Eden, which is not to partake from the Tree of knowledge of good and evil.
As the story goes, Adam and Eve chose poorly, deceived by the snake and their pride.
For those that have the heart to be part of God’s family (Mat12:50) and have set their minds set heavenward (Heb11, 1Pet2) seek to do the will of Abba Yahuah (God the Father).
This post seeks to explore from the scriptures concerning the following –

  1. the nature of God’s will.
  1. The manifestation of God’s will.
  1. How does one confirm if it is God’s will?
  1. What is the underlying reason that determines how one confirms they are doing God’s will?

This post will explore the nature of God’s will. There will be another 3 posts to cover the rest.

Nature of God’s Will

God’s will exists within a continuum. Rom12:2 tells us there are 3 categories of God’s will.

  1. The Perfect will of God.

Lord Yahusha has perfectly fulfilled God’s will in suffering, and death, especially His crucifixion.

Heb2:10 says it this way –

“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

Paul realizing the truth of God’s perfect will, pursued this goal. He states this goal in Phil3:10-11.

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

This goal’s reward (not a gift) is the 1st resurrection of Rev20:6, described as the “resurrection of the dead” in Phil3:11.

  1. The Good will of God.
  1. The Acceptable will of God.

It stands to reason that the good and acceptable category has reduced suffering according to God’s will compared with the perfect will of God. Note, the suffering reduces, not eliminated, with the perfect will of God involving martyrdom and the acceptable will of God with the least suffering.
These 3 categories may correspond with the 3 levels of rewards of 100-60-30 fold (Mark10:30, Mat13:23, Mat19:29) and gold-silver-precious stones mentioned in 1Co3.

Conclusion

God offers man the choice to choose within the continuum of His will.
There is also the choice to disobey Him by falling outside God’s will. The following post will explore how God communicates His will to man. It will also explore falling outside God’s will.

The Quest for Real Faith?

Introduction

This post is closely related to the post, Truth about Faith. One can consider the post Truth about Faith as the foundation to appreciate this post that explores the application of authentic faith.

The post Truth about Faith can be accessed via the following link – https://sincerelawrence.com/2022/08/17/truth-about-faith/

A friend made this insightful statement -“Faith is real when it is tested.”

Scripture attests to this insight –

1Pet1:7 – “That the trial of your faith (this faith is clarified as belief in the living hope of the resurrection in 1Pet1:3-5 and faith in the unseen Christ in 1Pet1:8, and His Return), being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

Rev3:18 -“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, (this gold is the faith tested in 1Pet1:7) that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”

Jam1:3-4 – “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Enemies of Faith

The enemy of authentic faith under the trials of fire is doubt that leads to loss of conviction of the hope of the resurrection and hope of His return. 

James in Jam1:6 says it in this way – “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

The “ask in faith” has two components that most do not distinguish but mix to their self-harm.

The first component is “ask.” 

The second is ” in faith.”

The Secrets of Asking

Generally, this “ask” is about earthly needs and wants. Attached to this “ask” is a hope God will supply them to meet expectations.

Phil4:19 comes to mind to reinforce the “right” to these expectations – 

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

The reading of Phil4:19 has overly focused on the “supply all,” leaving out the understanding of “need” and “glory.”

The Lord Jesus, defined these needs in Mat6:25-34 in the discourse about the birds of the air and lilies of the field. They are the basic needs of food, drink (I would render this as water), and clothing. 

Also, the focus of Mat6:25-34 is the relationship with God as Father (Mat6:32).

However, it does not mean God is not a God that does not fulfill wants. Else David would not have said this in Psa23:1 – “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Again the focus on Psa23:1 may be too much in the “shall not want” but insufficient on the Lord being one’s Shepherd. Again God emphasizes the relationship focus. Moreover Jam1:4 of “wanting nothing”, seems to suggests that the “shall not want” of Psa23:1 is a state of contentment in God as Shepherd. Where material wants lose their hold on the soul.

The apex of the glory of Christ is the events of Him crucified (His suffering and death) and resurrection. 

For the Lord called these events as Him being glorified in Jhn12:23.

This glory is predicated on Him submitting to God’s will, saying this in Mat26:39 –

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

In summary, the “ask” of prayers-petition to God may not be sufficiently mindful to abide by the scope of needs of Mat6 that has a Father-son relationship focus. Also prayer requests may not be conscious to submit to God’s will according to His word and life circumstances.

What does it mean to be In Faith?

For the second component, “in faith,” the believer often mixes the faith in the hope of fulfilled earthly needs-wants with the FAITH in the HOPE of the promises of God of the resurrection and the Lord’s return.

The former of earthly needs-wants is complex and has many conditions for them to be answered.

They depend on whether we ask with evil intentions, where Jam4:3 cites as a reason for UNANSWERED prayers. Whether we have a Shepherd relationship with the Lord Jesus of Psa23. And whether the person making the request is led by Spirit vs. being carnal of Rom8.

But most importantly for answered prayers is whether this former earthly  “faith” and “hope” is subject (in submission) to the eternal-divine “FAITH” and “HOPE” of the latter.

What does it mean “is subject”?

This ‘is subject’ is about whether one can give up everything, forgo all the earthly needs-wants hoped for in faith, and experience joy unspeakable of 1Pet1:8. While suffering tribulations, BECAUSE of the FAITH and HOPE in the resurrection and His return.

Conclusion

There are different qualities of faith, else the metaphor of gold would not be used to emphasize the value of the faith that is tested. Such tested faith has eternal value that ought to motivate the believer to endure the earthly trials. The bounty of eternity, being partakers of Christ’s divine nature, will compensate over and above for any temporal earthly suffering and injustices.

Therefore, brethren, Keep the FAITH!

God’s Faith, Hope, and Love

Faith is about beliefs that have a strong element of assumptions. Man’s knowledge and resources are limited. Much about life is accepted-assumed as true, unchallenged as a given on this basis of faith-belief or assumptions. 

Faith is operative primarily in and for the moment or the present. The Bible says faith brings the intangible hope of something in the future into the present (Heb11:1). 

This process, between faith and hope, makes an intangible hope into something more tangible (still intangible) to satisfy the present.

Hope is about a future goal. It represents man’s purpose, something, someone, or an outcome valued and worth pursuing. It presents man’s values.

There are many ways to express what love is all about. I am by no means competent in this department of love.

To support love’s connection to faith and hope, this post frames love being a decision drawing its strength from the resolve of the faith in the relationship and affection (emotional attachment) with the hope of a desired future arising from that relationship. 

The above describes faith, hope, and love in general terms. 

What is God’s focus or definition concerning these 3 pillars of the Christian faith (1Co13:13)?

Below is an attempt to support clarity in answering this question-

1. FAITH is about belief in the promise of the resurrection (1Pet1:3), the promise of His return (Heb10:37, 1Pet1:7), and the promise of the eternal rewards (Mat16:27, 1Co3:14, Heb10:35).

2. HOPE is about the hope in the resurrection (1Per1:3) realized by FAITH that does not put the believer to shame (Rom5:5).

3. LOVE is about loving the unseen Christ (1Pet1:8) realized by FAITH with joy unspeakable while enduring tribulations (1Pet1:6-7).

Que Sera Sera- What Will Be, Will Be – Despair or Hope

This post comes on the heels of the recent post, Truth about Faith.

Once a friend made this statement – “Whatever must come will come”

This statement echoed the song Que Sera Sera. This post captures my thoughts about the wisdom of this mantra.

This mantra has been operating as a reality check, a filter of sorts, for appreciating the current and forecasted events, many of them promoting fearful uncertainty.

Whether mainstream or alternative, the news is rife with flavors of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This daily inundation of fear and uncertainty poisons the soul.

The mantra of “What will be, will be” or “Whatever must come will come” is not a fatalistic attitude given to despair. Instead, it underpins how I do not drown in earthly preparations (which I still make plans within my means) in light of the foreseeable future. It breaks the vicious cycle of the constant flow of bad news that would otherwise overwhelm me with despair and paralysis. My soul stays afloat amidst the stormy sea of negativity because my HOPE is in God’s faithfulness of His eternal promises.

His promise of my resurrection and His return are the source of HOPE, which motivates me to gradually (day by day) let go of this earthly life, weakening its stranglehold that stems from the demands and expectations of the various roles one has in this life.

This letting go involves the weaning of the fear of events, fear of man, and fear of death. Hope fills the gaping void created by the absence of these fears.

It is a balancing act of sorts, having a heavenward mindset while living in the earthly moment, searching and seeking to experience meaning trying to connect to the heavenward mindset. This process requires the spiritual awakening of the soul.

While each person’s life journey is unique, where comparison is meaningless, the journeys share the common experience expressed in these words – enduring patience.

Truth about Faith

Faith is not limited to religious persuasions but is universally embraced by man. However, faith’s purpose, meaning, and significance are not universal. This post explores the purpose, meaning, and significance of the Christian faith; The truth about faith.

Imagine the following two private conversations-

“Have faith,” my best friend offers me these consoling words, with a lump forming in her throat while gently brushing my hand at my husband’s funeral.

“Have faith,” the father smiles with encouragement while his eyes convey worry, comforting the family as his wife undergoes a major operation.

These scenes are repeated worldwide, albeit in different ways but centralized on the issue of faith. Regardless of which religion, this kind of faith is directed at something or someone that transcends the earthly realm.

The Bible, especially the New Testament (NT), reveals many nuances concerning the Christian faith. This post will explore the truth about faith to determine if this truth supports the above two imaginary conversations.

Hope, faith, and love are the pillars of Christianity (1Co13:13). Love has greater clarity and a defined focus. 1Co13 is a whole chapter dedicated to what love means to God.

Moreover, the NT’s only Law is to fulfill the commandment of love (Rom13:10), also known as the Law of Christ in Gal6:2.

The Christian faith and hope in the two conversations have an earthly focus. Does the NT truth about faith and hope support an earthly focus?

Spoiler alert – As this post examines the scriptures for the truth about faith, the truth about hope will also be revealed.

Let’s start with two relatively well-known scriptures concerning faith and two lesser-known ones.

  1. 2Co5:7 – “We walk by faith and not by sight.”
  1. Heb11:6 –“But without faith, it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
  1. Rom14:23 – “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
  1. 1Pet1:7 –“ That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

Without going into the context (the context will be explored later), the 4 verses above describe faith as a walk (conduct, living the Christian life) that is absolutely essential to please God. Else it amounts to sin. Furthermore, when this faith is tested, its eternal values increase for the Day of the Lord.

To avoid this post becoming an overwhelming Bible study experience, these 4 verses, contextually (meaning when one read the whole chapter), all share one contextual thing in common. They all share the context that this faith is about the belief in the resurrection of Christ and the believer’s resurrection.

The central focus of the resurrection common to all 4 verses is returning to the roots of Christian salvation, which is found in Rom10:9-10 –

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

The belief or faith that saves is meant to have the singular focus on the resurrection of Christ. These 4 verses reinforce the paramount importance of this faith of the resurrection in the Christian walk on the earth that has eternal significance.

As if God is concerned that the importance of the resurrection escapes the Christian awareness, Paul said this in 2Co13:5, where he urged the believer to self-examine whether one is in faith, living by the power of God as displayed in the resurrection of Christ (2Co13:4). Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit then says this in 2Co13:8 –

“For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.”

What truth is Paul alluding to? This truth is the truth of the resurrection mentioned a few verses earlier. In other words, paraphrasing 2Co13:8 – to live by the faith in the power of the resurrection is God’s truth concerning the Christian faith.

For those interested in a deeper dive to support the above claim, below explores the supporting context.

  1. 2Co5:1-6 shows the context of the walk of faith in 2Co5:7 is an eternal heavenward’s focus of the resurrection vs. the temporary earthly body (2Co5:1-6).
  1. Heb11:16 shows the context of faith that pleased God in Heb11:6 is the faith in the hope of a better heavenly country (Heb11:16) vs. being a stranger and pilgrim on the earth (Heb11:13). Moreover, the reward mentioned in Heb11:6 would likely be referring to the eternal rewards of the out-resurrection of Phil3:10-11 and 1Co3, derived from the good works of gold, silver, and precious stones.
  1. Rom14:8-9 talks about whether the believers live or die, it is done unto Christ who died and rose again. As the believers are not eyewitnesses to the Lord’s death and resurrection, the believers require faith in this regard for the Lord’s death and resurrection to be real for them.

Therefore, Rom14:23’s “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” has contextual support. This faith is the faith in the death and resurrection of Christ that He loved us. Thus when the lesser faith about eating certain foods is disputed, know that FAITH of the Lord’s death and resurrection compels one to respond in love.

  1. 1Pet1:3-5 talks about the faith in the living hope of the resurrection. 1Pet1:6 discusses how suffering can be experienced in unspeakable joy because of this hope. Therefore, it stands to reason that the context of the faith tested in 1Pet1:7 is the testing of the faith in the living hope of the resurrection on the Day of the Lord.

It should be more apparent now that Christian hope is the hope of the resurrection and not an earthly hope.

Conclusion

The above narrative offers compelling evidence that the Christian faith in God is not about hoping to be healed, to get a better job, or for a soul mate, any earthly needs-wants.

While these are legitimate earthly need-want, this faith that pleases God of the Christian walk focuses on the heavenward goals, especially the resurrection, and not on earthly need-want.

Christians and Money Series- Spiritual Application: Part 6

Introduction

Post 5 of the Christians and Money Series concluded RELATIONSHIPS issues are at the heart of Man’s helplessness to serve two Masters, God and Mammon.

This Post 6 frames the spiritual application of the Christians and Money Series. Due to each post’s word limit, there will be a Post 7 to articulate the natural application to support Man’s goal to serve God and not Mammon.

Post 6 is content-heavy. Further aggravating readability, the subject matter is complicated and abstract, which challenges clarity to see how the parts are gathering together as a whole. It is challenging to feel comfortable in a big forest with diverse flora and fauna.

 

The first section, Awareness and Creation out of Destruction, clarifies that the goals set out in Post 1 were met by seeding awareness to create the required focus and shift in values to support God’s Alternative that restores the RELATIONSHIPS. See Post 3 and 4 for details of these RELATIONSHIPS.

The second section, Individual Hope vs. Collective Hope, reveals money’s spiritual application, which is the individual’s goal of soul salvation. God uses money and RELATIONSHIPS as the context to test Man’s soul to save the soul. This section explains the nature of spirit, soul, and body salvation to avoid confusion among them. This section also describes how the new covenant’s soul salvation is different and more valuable than the old covenant in-terms of approach and outcomes.

The third section, Soul Salvation and Money, offers why soul salvation is essential to fulfilling God’s and Man’s core interest.

I found Post 6 very challenging to narrate compared to the other posts. It is foreseeable that Post 6 will evolve as a live document to reflect these challenges.

 

Awareness and Creation out of Destruction

Post 1 mentioned that this series has 2 goals. It will be helpful to see how the previous 5 posts have supported these 2 goals.

Awareness is the Seed of Realization and Intention

  1. The 1st goal mentioned in Post 1; These series create awareness of the deceptive relationship with money. Man can avoid the eternal consequences that the current norms bring.

In-summary Posts 1 to 5 have shown that, instead of focusing on the RELATIONSHIPS, Man has created surrogates, such as money, to substitute the RELATIONSHIPS God offered. Men find comfort through these surrogates to free themselves from the worry of the future and provide a sense of purpose and meaning on earth, albeit temporal, hedonic, and suffer marginal utility. Man’s choices carry the weight of eternal consequences.

Realizations Sift the Chaff of Man’s Realities from God’s Realities (Photo by TUAN ANH TRAN on Unsplash)

This new awareness seeds new realizations. This seeding is possible because awareness sifts the chaff of Man’s realities from God’s. For the chaff has deceived Man’s senses with an apparent value that’s temporal and pleasure-seeking, diminishing the eternal value of RELATIONSHIPS.

The clarity of this awareness helps Man to look away from future worries and focus on God’s promise to provide for their future needs.

This approach draws from the same truth of the parable of the sower in Mat13. These series are sowing seeds in the heart of readers.

Breaking to Create

  1. The 2nd goal mentioned in Post 1; This series supports the Christians’ walk to break out from the world economic system’s mold. It is making stronger connections between scripture, societal stance, and personal practical application.

In-summary Posts 1 to 5 have shown that surrogates dominate Man’s relationships through institutionalization, affecting the secular, religious, and personal domains. These institutionalized relationships being bureaucratic and social, are transactional and profit-seeking.

Breaking the existing mold supports the shift from what the heart used to value, which is the temporal pleasures of this world, but instead to appreciate the eternal rewards and divine glory. Often money is the means to attain these temporal values. Likewise, God uses money as the context for achieving His alternative to restore Man’s broken RELATIONSHIPS.

This idea of creation emerging from Destruction is original with God (John12:24).

 

Individual Hope vs. Collective Hope

However, Post 5 ended on a despairing note of the unavoidable Age of acute mortality of Mat24:7 and Luke21:10-11, naturally posing the question – Why may one ask, what is the purpose of this Christian and Money Series since the bitter end appears inevitable?

Individual Hope vs. Collective Hope

Notwithstanding the grim events of Mat24:7, this new focus and shift in values are the foundations to support SOUL salvation, which is the spiritual application of money. It is needful to recognize that soul salvation is an individual experience and not for collective humanity.

Humanity lacks the collective will to change its current trajectory of self-harm and destination of self-destruction. Therefore, humanity foreseeably continues to meander in its self created domain of darkness.

 

Born Again Spirit-Saved Soul-Resurrected Body

 

What is soul salvation? Post 3 briefly introduced the concept of Soul salvation. Firstly, God has offered Man three types of salvation that correspond to Man’s spirit, soul, and body. Collectively, they represent God’s plan for Man to attain divinity.

John3 explains spiritual salvation occurs when the spirit is born again begat by the Holy Spirit (John3:6). Spiritual salvation is a gift of God (Eph2:8-9), obtained by confessing that Jesus is the savior (forgiveness of sins) and believing in His resurrection, according to Rom10:9 and Heb10:12. Spiritual salvation guarantees a place in heaven. See the post “Once Saved Always Saved: Proof” for a deeper understanding of the scriptural basis to substantiate this claim of a heavenly membership guarantee.

Paul introduced salvation of the body in 1Co15. He calls this saved body a spiritual body. This body’s nature is eternal (undying), incorruptible, imbued in power, and glorious. This body is preserved in heaven by the power of God (1Pet1:5).

Peter calls this spiritual body the living hope of believers (1Pet1:3). The spiritual body’s promise is the source of hope for believers on earth, so they do not despair in their earthly suffering. Because God “owes” Man the body, He (God the Father) offered the Holy Spirit to each believer as a promissory note (IOU) (2Co1:22) as an assurance of the promised spiritual body. God gives the spiritual body in the 1st resurrection mentioned in Rev20:5, which marks Jesus’ conquest over death (Rev20:10) on behalf of Man.

In-summary, both spiritual salvation and body salvation are gifts from God. Man’s part is to believe God at His word. However, the matter is very different for soul salvation.

The Complete Salvation of Man- Pathway to Divinity

 

Peter, in 1Pet1:9, describes soul salvation. Soul salvation is highly variable, where each believer has a different degree of soul salvation. Jesus has perfect soul salvation (Heb2:10,5:8-9) among all the sons of God.

Faith is the raw ingredient to support Man’s soul salvation. God the Father, the impartial Judge (1Pet1:17), tests this faith to validate Genuity thru fiery trials of wrongful suffering doing good expressed in sincere brotherly love (2nd Commandment) mentioned in 1Pet1:7, 9 and 22, 1Pet2:19 and 1Pet3:17. Soul salvation is commonly known as the Holy Spirit’s sanctification (1Pet1:2) by faith works cited in James2 to respect Man’s free will by offering Man choices in life.

Confusion, debate, and controversy commonly emerge when one fails or refuses to distinguish between spiritual justification-salvation, a gift of the born again spirit, and soul justification-salvation, which requires Man’s effort as the primary component.

 

Why is human effort key to soul salvation? God values and honors free choice, even above the salvation of Man. The power to wield free will resides in Man’s soul. God the Father presented Jesus the option in the Garden of Gethsamane to die at the cross or abandon ship (Mat26:38-39), and this choice grieved His soul. Jesus’ SOUL was perfected in the weakness of submission when He obeyed His Father’s will to die at the cross (Heb2:10,5:8-9). Man who calls Jesus, Master (John15:20), are not exempted from the soul salvation test of suffering to perfect their soul.

Peter reminded Man of this truth when he presented Jesus as the model example for Man to emulate in this regard (1Pet4:1, 2:21). Because soul salvation requires suffering, Peter in 1Pet4:18 recognized the difficulty of soul salvation by saying, “If the righteous one is sacredly (with difficulty) saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”.

Apart from preserving Man’s free will and perfecting the soul, Soul salvation has the goal to produce eternal glory (2Co4:16-18, 1Pet4:14) and satisfy the charge of the hypocrisy against Man’s professed sincere faith and love for God that was laid by Satan against Job (and Man) in Job1:9-11.

This eternal glory is the final unit of measure of each person’s degree of soul salvation. To support this view, Paul, in 1Co15:41, recognized that glory is unique between individuals. Glory being the unit of measure, stems from the relationship between soul salvation and glory. Soul salvation produces glory, according to 2Co4:16-18. Therefore evidence of the degree of soul salvation can be inferred by the quantity of eternal glory the soul possesses.

 

The correlation of soul salvation and glory holds great significance for Man than this simple correlation. The new covenant soul’s salvation glory is different and more valuable than the glory that Adam and Eve received from God in Eden. Man forfeited their glory (Rom3:23) when Adam and Eve sinned by partaking the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen3). In the New Covenant, God cannot confiscate Man’s glory, like what happened in Eden due to sin. There are two reasons for this.

  1. This glory is different because God does not give this glory as Man’s soul produces it as part of Man’s soul salvation process. Therefore original ownership resides with Man.
  1. In the old testament, the power of sin is the reason for soul death (Eze18:20), and this does not apply in the new testament. This claim is an observation. As for why this is the case, probably, Jesus, God’s only Son as the sin sacrifice (John3:16), and the nature of His death (suffering on the cross willingly) were overpayment for Man’s sins. They over satisfied God’s Justice and justified Him to make this shift in this matter of Man’s soul. This glory of the soul salvation is more valuable than the Edenic glory because it required payment of Jesus’ blood and suffering.

This lengthy introduction is necessary to explain soul salvation as the basis for spiritual application with wealth-money as the context.

 

Soul Salvation and Money

Man’s Heart Follows His Treasure

God recognized the power of treasures to captivate Man’s heart. Mat6:21, Jesus framed this by saying, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be (reside).” God wants Man to realize and value RELATIONSHIPS as true treasures so that Man’s heart chooses to reside in a relationship with God. The 2 commandments of Love (Mat22:36-40) embody God’s Word, All the Law (His purpose), and the Prophets (His will).

RELATIONSHIPS have an actual value similar to money or wealth on earth. The two posts dedicated to exploring this value are as follows.

  1. The Currency of Heaven is Glory- https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/31/currency-of-heaven-10min-read/
  2. Wealth Ranking in Heaven- https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/11/04/wealth-ranking-in-heaven-10min-read/

Notwithstanding what these two posts have covered, It is needful to reiterate two aspects to support this post 6’s narrative.

God’s Justice (1st Commandment) and God’s Love (2nd Commandment) Hanging in Perfect Balance

 

  1. The first aspect is about satisfying God’s two most basic needs. The first need is God’s intrinsic nature of love, revealed in 1John4:16. So if God was posed a question and asked, “Who are you?” God will respond; I am love. The 2 Commandments of Love in Mat22:36-40 describes the scope of this love.

 

1st Commandment and 2nd Commandment-

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And He said to him,” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’

“This is the great and foremost Commandment.

“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’

“On these two commandments depend (hang) the whole Law and the Prophets.”

 

God gave these two Commandments to Man, but He has also imposed these same 2 Commandments onto Himself as evidenced in the giving of His Son for Man’s salvation. God’s sense of Justice demands that both Man and God fulfill these two Commandments alike.

The second need of God is to perform His role as the impartial Judge mentioned in 1Pet1:17, which James says is also the only One that can save or destroy in Jam4:12.

With the above understanding, Mat22:36-40 needs rephrasing to account for God imposing these Commandments onto Himself.

 

1st Commandment rephrased, the “I,” “My” and “Myself” is God referring to Himself

– “I SHALL LOVE MYSELF WITH ALL MY HEART, AND WITH ALL MY SOUL, AND WITH ALL MY MIND.’

The 1st Commandment is a demanding love. In the original form, God is demanding Man’s, undivided love. In the rephrased form, God requires that He honors His Self-Love. Thus God as Judge is upholding both the 1st and 2nd Love Commandments’ sanctity.

In the old covenant, God imposed this demanding loving on Man’s soul that carried the death penalty due to sin (Eze18:20). Although the new covenant has absolved Man from eternal death due to sin, God’s Justice to uphold the 1st Commandment demands that Man’s soul does not receive the same “scott free” treatment as the born again spirit or resurrected body. But instead, the soul (including Jesus’ soul) needs to suffer wrongfully (1Pet2:19) and be tested by fiery trials (1Pet1:7). Money and wealth play a central role in providing the context for these wrongful suffering and fiery trials.

 

2nd Commandment rephrased ‘I SHALL LOVE MAN AS MYSELF.’

The 2nd Commandment is a giving, sacrificial love. In its original form, God is demanding Man love his fellow man as himself. In the rephrased form, it is God demanding Himself to love Man as Himself. This sacrificial love was given as a gift with no contribution needed or desired of man (Eph2:8-9). The blood and body of Christ paid for this love gift for God to fulfill His 2nd Commandment towards Man.

God accepted Christ’s blood as the payment for the forgiveness of sins (Eph1:7). The blood also provided the medium similar to the shedding of blood during natural childbirth for the Holy Spirit, like a mother, to give birth to Man’s born again spirit (John3:6). I am aware that this view is unorthodox, but the elements come together naturally validated by childbirth’s natural experience.

God accepted Christ’s earthly body as the medium to construct the resurrected divine body of God (Col2:9). God retained Jesus’ earthly body as a medium for the resurrected body of the risen Jesus still bears the piercing scars (John20:27).

The Saved Spirit-Soul-Body of Man Ruling with Christ

  1. The second aspect is about satisfying Man’s legitimate need to stand out for their uniqueness and showcase aspects valued by their kind (self-worth). The soul has the innate desire to be respected and appreciated. Humanly speaking, this desire to receive social accolades is the reason for social comparison that breeds jealousy and envy. Money is often the means to fulfill these desires. Man’s desire to realize this need is legitimate. The issue lies with the means.

This need for social recognition emerged in the prodigal Son’s parable when the elder vented his frustration over this matter in Luke15:29-30. God, Himself demonstrates this trait. This observation is not surprising, given that God made Man in His image (Gen1:27).

God used human terms to describe His desire to engage with Man relationally. He uses the relational words such as Father (Mat5:45), brother (Mat28:10), bridegroom, a friend (John15:15), and lover to express (the Book of Song of Solomon, Eze16:8) His uniqueness and desire to be valued in those roles. Therefore, for this reason, Man’s desire for uniqueness and worth is legitimate in the eyes of God.

Tragically, instead of receiving reciprocated respect and appreciation, Man spurns and despises God’s sincere, repeated pleas. The Book of Ezekiel Chapter 16 is one comprehensive example of Man’s unsightly response invoking God’s wrath.

 

Through soul salvation, God has created the means for Man to differentiate themselves uniquely from one another in terms that both God and Man values. Notably, the soul salvation that produces heavenly wealth on earth and the eternal rewards of 1Co3 are often earned in-tandem due to the soul salvation experiences.

The eternal glory indicates how much the transformed soul of that individual is similar to Christ, Christ-likeness. Christ is the supreme ruler of the 1000 years earth rule mentioned in Rev20:6. In this verse, believers raised in the 1st resurrection will co-reign with Christ during this period. It is my view that God confers greater authority to those who have significant eternal glory as this glory commensurates with their degree of Christ-likeness.

The parable of the Minas in Luke 19 provides the basis for this claim. This parable is known for describing the 2nd coming of Christ in Rev20. In this parable, God rewards faithfulness in MONEY matters by giving cities to the said person to rule. For the person with higher monetary returns, God will correspondingly give more cities. Post 7 will discuss the natural application drawing from this parable.

The spiritual application shows faithfulness in money produces eternal glory. This glory is rewarded by God with more significant amounts of authority to co-rule with Christ. Therefore God’s plans for Man are practical, for it satisfies Man’s desire for uniqueness and enhancing their worth in the eyes of their kind, and more importantly, with God.

 

Conclusion

Money is the context, the battleground, and the means for God to test Man’s soul for its professed sincere love for Him and others. God has offered Man eternal incentives of eternal glory and rewards to incentivize Man to focus on Him by not worrying about the future and not to succumb to the temporal pleasures of this world.

God has gone thru great trouble with high stakes in-order that both God and Man fulfill and experience the fullness of the balanced RELATIONSHIPS of the 1st and 2nd Commandment.

Post 7 natural application, although more concrete and practical, is similarly content-heavy.

Christians and Money Series-Harlotry and Blood on our Hands: Part 3

Introduction

 

Bipolar Christianity

 

This post is part 3 of the Christian and Wealth Series. Part 2 ended with Christians indicted for serving two masters (Mat6:24), money and God. This post attempts to understand God’s perspective from the New Testament and the Old Testament regarding this behavior in-order to harmonize them into today’s context.

For part 2, refer to the link.

https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/11/16/christians-and-money-serving-two-masters/

The current age operates within the new covenant context. Therefore, this post will first explore the New Testament. This post examines scriptures that describe the shift that repurposed the old covenant Law’s outward form of the performance to be subordinated to the inner substance that deals with the heart’s condition. 

The purpose of this post is to expose the severity of serving two Masters and how the new covenant has significantly reduced this severity.

 

God Hates Hypocrisy

 

White tombs in Jewish Cemetery dedicated enclosures are tombs of rabbis in Mellah quarter

Whitewash tomb and the clean cup on the outside (Mat23:25-28) are metaphors used by Jesus to indict the religious hypocrites. They have a beautiful outer appearance that conceals death and uncleanness inside.  Jesus strongly condemned this behavior, and such people (Mat23:33). Crudely said the hypocrite is akin to the harlot who builts for herself a monument to glorify her chastity. God condemns this as an abomination. God uses the word abomination to describe the sin of idolatry in Ezekiel. Later sections will reveal that Man’s worshipping money is equivalent to the sin of idolatry.

How would the commandment of loving your neighbor as oneself (Mark12:31, those that God presented in one’s life circumstances) not come across as hypocritical to the world in need when this excessive wealth disparity exists, creating unacceptable outcomes?

At this juncture, some may say that giving will not solve the poor’s problems for the poor the world shall always have (Mat26:11). In fairness, this retort is reasonable, and the last post will attempt to address this complex issue of sharing. However, do not be deceived into believing these grounds for inaction.

 

God Values Man’s Body

 

The Second Temple Model of the ancient in Jerusalem

The body is the temple of God (1Co6:19). 1Co3:17 says that if anyone defiles the temple of God (their body), God shall destroy that person. The body committing sexual immorality amounts to defiling God’s temple. (1Co6:18-19).

1Co5:5 contains an example where. Paul sentenced the man who openly committed adultery with his stepmother to destroy his body, so at least his spirit is saved.

When one commits idolatry, one would assume that the worship of idols and pagan images are involved. The Old Testament focused on the external forms of idolatry, e.g., as recorded in Ezekiel. However, in the New Testament, idolatry includes such worship and much more.

Col3:5- “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”

A word study using the blue letter bible of this broad definition of idolatry from Col 3:5 affirms the different forms of the treasures man keep and worship in their heart (Mat6:21) as follow:

  1. Immorality (porneia-sexual)
  2. Impurity (akatharsia)- lustful, luxurious, profligate (extravagant/excessive) living
  3. Passion (pathos)- depraved passion
  4. Evil (kakos) desire (epithymia) – improper forbidden craving.
  5. Greed (-pleonexia)- greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice

Covetousness, Avarice, Profligate – The New Age Idolatry

The love of money is the root of all evil (1Tim6:10). Col3:5 offers two categories where this love has crossed God’s Bottomline tantamounting to worshipping two masters. The first, impurity, is the outward evidence found in the extravagant lifestyle choices of the person. The fifth and final post will explore what would amount to extravagance using objective economic metrics.

The second, greed, deals with the inner condition of the worshipper of Mammon. Man has abused the intended use of money. Money is a tool to serve man’s needs and not for man to serve as its slave.

 

Old Testament Context

Solomon’s Temple

Solomon built God His temple (1Kings6). This temple was still around during Israel’s exile to Babylon, as recorded by Ezekiel. God was angry with Israel during the exile for the following reasons

  1. They committed idolatry by worshipping at the high places (Eze6:3). The Israelites hurt God’s reputation and feelings by their adulterous hearts (Eze6:9).
  2. The leaders and priests desecrated Solomon’s temple by worshiping idols in the temple, carving images on the temple wall (Eze8:6, 10, 17), and carrying out human sacrifices (Ezekiel 23:37-39) in the temple.

God called this desecration as an abomination, a stench to God. God also describes their idolatry as harlotry in Eze16

  1. God was angry with the false prophets and their false divination (Eze13:9)

    Blood on your Hands

  2. God was mad at the Israelites for cursing their parents by way of their treatment, for oppressing the fatherless and widows (Eze22:7), committed crimes against their neighbor for dishonest gain (Eze22:12), oppressing the poor and needy (Eze18:12), for these actions God condemned Israel as having blood on their hands. These are sins of oppressing the vulnerable.

    Meat in the Pot

  3. God was displeased with the Jerusalem leaders’ proud attitudes. The Babylonians left behind the poorest in Jerusalem (2Kings25:12), but they dared to pride themselves as meat in the pot (Eze11:3), looking down at the exiles in Babylon. This attitude is the sin of the pride of life. The next post will reveal that Christians also suffer from this sense of privilege and entitlement.

God’s accusations of idolator, blood on your hands, and meat in the pot are three accusations relevant to the subject of money and serving two masters. Thank God for the new covenant of reconciliation to save Man from such dire charges.

 

Blending the New and Old Testament – What is God’s Position Now Concerning Man Serving Two Masters

 

Harmonizing the New and the Old Covenant

God, in the old covenant, punished Israel’s sins of idolatry, oppression, and pride. They died from the plague, sword, and famine (Eze5:12), leaving a remnant in exile or scattered. It is evident in the new covenant Jesus’ sacrifice has satisfied God’s wrath. Else Christians would die ghastly deaths in mind-boggling numbers for these same transgressions.

God has new two overarching goals in the new covenant compared to the old covenant’s overarching goals: to obey and live or sin and die. The new covenant goals are to believe, and the spirit be born again (John3), and genuine faith works to save the soul (1Peter1).

This spirit-soul topic is extensive and exceeds the scope of this post. For this post, it is sufficient to draw attention to two things. Firstly, God suspends, delays, and alters the “punishment” mode to support soul tempering, detracting from the direct physical death sentence to allow soul salvation to occur. However, His Laws of Sowing and Reaping (Gal6:7-8) that repays wrong for the wrong  (Col3:25) are still in effect, but the main objective is to transform (love motivated). The secondary aim is to punish (justice motivated).

 

Even though the words primary and secondary indicate priority, but in reality, God’s will decides which is primary and which is secondary. God is sovereign to determine whether His will is love or justice motivated. Generally, love motivation is primary, and justice motivation is secondary in the new covenant.

Secondly, because of the first observation, by the Holy Spirit, Peter, James, and Paul were aware of this human condition inclined to take grace as a “license to sin” partly exacerbated by the sense of entitlement (meat in the pot) that abuses the privileges granted.

  1. 1Pet2:16 cautions the believer not to use the liberty offered by the grace of salvation apart from works as a pretext for evil/maliciousness.

 

  1. Jam2:17 cautions the believer that a faith that boasts spiritual salvation apart from works is empty with no results to show. This kind of faith does not save the soul. See the following links for the post, titled “Faith and Work in Harmony,” and Once Saved Always Saved.” These posts specifically address Jam2:17. See link – https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/27/faith-and-work-in-harmony-4min-read/ and https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/27/once-saved-always-saved-10min-read/

 

  1. Gal5:13 cautions believers not to abuse the liberty of salvation by grace to live to satisfy the flesh, the lust of the eye, the craving of the flesh, and the pride of life (1John2:16).

Given these warnings, Christians should sober-up to recognize they are as challenged in worshiping money as non-Christians. Thus Christians would do themselves a great favor to ditch the hypocritical sense of privilege and entitlement.

 

Conclusion

 

Self-Harm by Serving Two Masters

Believers place themselves in harm’s way when they serve two masters. Harm occurs in two ways.

 

Self-Harm Cycle

Firstly, serving two masters brings self-harm. The constant pendulum swing between the two masters creates an internal civil war in the soul. Each swing brings the soul into a cycle of self-harm illustrated above. Self-harm also occurs, as this deprives the believer of opportunities from obtaining their rewards in heaven and the production of glory in heaven and wealth ranking in heaven. See the following two links.

https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/31/currency-of-heaven-10min-read/

https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/11/04/wealth-ranking-in-heaven-10min-read/

 

Secondly, harm occurs because it provokes God’s jealousy and risks violating God’s bottom line to destroy the temple (the body) that continues to practice idolatry. This risk remains notwithstanding Jesus’ blood covering. God remains jealous of believers’ love and does not want to share this love with Mammon. Provoking God is not a sound decision, which is akin to playing with fire, albeit Jesus is offering protection, and God deals with us in His love.

The following post four examines how the world, whether rich or poor, is negatively impacted by money. This post will also explore God’s offer in the new testament to free man from money’s enslavement.