Small knots are sometimes hard to unravel

Small Knot #1– We aren’t necessary to this world. There is no logical or scientific reason for humans to exist.

So, why are we here? There is no evolutionary explanation, since man is credited with destroying all kinds of species, supposedly to the extent of altering the global weather systems,  and depleting all kinds of irreplaceable natural resources.

The only explanation that makes sense is that God had a better plan, just as He said in Genesis 1:26-30: We were meant to have dominion and be stewards of the earth, but our fallen nature has completely corrupted us into self-seeking and ignorant abuser of this world.

Small Knot # 2– In both Matt 19 and Mark 10 Jesus affirms that entering into the Kingdom will be difficult for many, especially the rich. But, we are promised we will be recompensed for the things we give up for His sake, in this life and the next. Oddly enough, sons, daughter, mothers and fathers are mentioned, but never wives or husbands. I think this was omitted on purpose and thus means: God does not condone divorce, even between a believer and an infidel. Paul affirms this in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16. Many in the church wink at believers leaving abusive husbands or wives, non-working spouses, etc. But, where is the scriptural warrant?  I am not approving spousal abuse or neglect, but this may very well be the persecution one will have to bear due to poor choices made earlier in life be either or both people. Nowhere does the scripture say a man or woman may leave their spouse and divorce them for anything other than adultery.

Small Knot # 3 – Jesus states explicitly in Mark 9:38-41 that anyone not opposing the cause of Christ supports it, in effect. Not sure how this applies to different Christian sects, but it certainly sounds ecumenical. How far do we take this?

 Small Knot #4 – Water and the Bible
When the Israelites were leaving Egypt they had to pass through the Red Sea. In order to inherit Canaan they had to cross the river Jordan. God gavethem their freedom and the “land of promise” but it required obedience and effort on their part. A specific example is Jericho. They had to march around it once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day in order to possess what God had given them!

God promises us salvation, but there are things we must do in order to obtain it just as the Israelites were not just given the Promised Land without any participation on their part. Argue that God is the One who actually performs these things in us, and I won’t necessarily disagree. But, these acts of obedience must occur or we cannot be saved!

1. Repent – change our minds about how and why we are here and have godly sorrow about our rebellious form of life.  (2 Corinthians 7:10, Romans 3:11, 2 Timothy 2:19)

2. Believe the good news that Jesus has died in our place and through Him we have forgiveness of sins and peace with God. (John 11:26, Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 5;10)

So why do so many say the following are NOT required?

3. Be baptized (Acts 2:38, every conversion in the book of Acts, Romans 6:3-5, Galatians 3:27, Colossians 2:12, Ephesians 5:26, Titus 3:5 )

4. Love God, not the world ( 1 John 2:15, Colossians 3:1)

Small Knot #5 – Jesus says “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” (John 12:47-48 ESV)

and yet, John says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 ESV)

and Paul “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV)

Why does Christ seem to contradict this? I mean, surely He doesn’t, but I am missing something here, I am sure. If Jesus is the Word, and we know He is, then why would He say men will be judged by His words, but not Himself?
Small Knot # 6 – The Christian Hope; what is it?

While we are told of the Kingdom of Heaven, but that only implies the rule of that kingdom, not the location. Nowhere in scripture are we promised we will live in heaven. God, Jesus, the angels, the seven spirits, our citizenship, our treasure, our rewards, ours names, our future bodies (or permanent dwelling places – John 14:2), and our inheritance is KEPT in heaven for us. We will be united with these at the judgment after the resurrection. The Resurrection is the GREAT HOPE of the Christian. (Matt 22:30, Luke 20:36, Acts 23:6, 24:15, Romans 8:23-24, Philippians 3:10-11 to list a few).

Even Rev 19:1, which mentions a great multitude in heaven, does not imply that these are either dead or resurrected people.

I just cringe when I hear people talk about loved ones in heaven. Why then is there a resurrection? Martha knew that (John 11:24) and Paul, as both a Pharisee and Apostle believed that the resurrection of the righteous was what we were looking forward to. The resurrection is when we receive immortality. Not before. (Daniel 12:2, Romans 2:7, etc.)

Jesus stated plainly “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” (John 3:13)

There appears to be only one destination for those who are counted worthy to attain to the resurrection of Christ –  the New Earth (2 Peter 3:13, Rev 21:1) in which righteousness dwells.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by indywatchman on July 5, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Prodigal,

    You are at least consistent with the name of your blog; you do have knots. Prodigal’s knots can be untied, regardless of the smallness or complexity, or tightness.

    I am cautious when trying to untie knots of understanding that are presented to me by my friends. With a few this task has revealed a lack of faith on their part, and a depth of religiosity that had nothing to do with Christianity. I once had an employee who I had led to Jesus; about two years ago now. I had presented answers to all his questions with apologetics and evidences that could not be disputed, and the evidence so overwhelmed him that he could not, reasonably, reject it, so he accepted Christ. The days that followed were torturous for me. He would demand that every issue of the Scripture make sense to his intellect, and that every knot be untied. He lacked real believing faith that God could untie those knots, or that it was God who created those knots in the first place. Every knot is a test of our reliance on Him, regardless of how things appear. My old friend chose to trust the History Channel explanation rather than believe the Bible, when he could not understand or unravel the knots. Today he has ventured off into the mysticism and traditions of the Orthodox church trying to make sense of it all. Many end up there when faith cannot be trusted. His problem is much deeper than apologetics or evidences, it was, and is, a matter of faith.

    I am not saying that there are no answers to those questions, only that God gives real “living” answers to our deepest desires when our trust and faith become a true expression of who we are. I speak as one who has experienced this miracle firsthand. Thirty three years of Bible study, Bible college, two years of Greek, and a life that left in its wake the broken lives of my family and myself. With one gigantic act of true trust the Lord turned it all around, but not before the death of my “dear” self.

    What I discovered, which I had only known as a rumor before, is that it is very much a fact that God communicates with His children through revelation to those who walk in the Spirit. God is a Spirit and those who would have dealings with God must do so in the spirit. This fact is also proof that most of Christianity today is not operating in the Spirit. With all the confusion and division inside the organized walls of Christendom we can only conclude that every man is doing what is right in his own eyes.

    Your questions do exercise the mind, and does allow a certain earthly relief to heavenly questions, but I tend to think that you are searching for something more. “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” John 7:17

    Peace. Seek ye first the Kingdom,

    Steve Blackwell
    http://www.indywatchman.com

  2. Indy Steve,

    You are correct about my searching for something more. I don’t hear God’s voice other than when something grabs me in His Word. The more I read and learn, the less I know; which is why I am not a fan of apologetics. There is too much weight placed on logical evidences, when our Lord said plainly, “Blessed are those, who having not seen, believe.”

    If you have to convince someone that God exists or that the Bible is truly God’s Word, then God Himself has not revealed it to that person. The best we can do is hope they will get a mental affirmation that leads to heartfelt seeking. Otherwise, they will never know what true faith is. In fact, scripture tells us that God must open a person’s heart in order for them to receive the truth. Even the love of the truth is something that must be received (Acts 16:14, 2 Thess 2:10).

    What am I looking for? The truth, and nothing but. I keep reminding God of the promise “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” I am afraid, at times, to have all the truth rvealed because I don’t completely trust myself. I, like everyone else, have pre-conceived notions that I have acquired through training and experience. A lot of my questions are not soteriological at all, but they emphasize my aversion to believing something just because it is traditional and not plainly supported in scripture.

    Thanks, as always for your thoughts and wisdom.

    PK

  3. Posted by indywatchman on July 5, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Prodigal,

    I love your candor, Honesty, and forthrightness, and I am truly pleased to call you a brother. I don’t always like to infringe on ones inner motivations, but as brothers and family members it is not only our privilege but our duty to question the things that drive us, to be sure that the deceitfulness of sin does not creep in. I have never detected that you have ever tried to defend some sacred real estate for the sake of tradition, and that is a good sign.

    It has always amazed me that as brothers and sisters grow in Christ how doctrinal differences seem to disappear. Actually It shouldn’t be a surprise since it is the same Holy Spirit in all of us. I believe that the “something more” that sincere seekers look for actually begins with something less, within themselves. David said it this way, “A broken and contrite heart He will not despise.” This “brokenness” and “contriteness” is to acknowledge our utter defeat and total inability to perform, and a crushing sorrow and shamefulness due to sin and the flesh. With that brokenness and contriteness we find ourselves welcoming death, and the sooner the better. The Scriptures say this same thing in so many places: there is no strength except through weakness; there is no fullness except through brokenness, and there is no life except through death. Should this death feel like death; yes, absolutely. I might also add that there is no understanding except we become “stupid.” That tree of the knowledge of good and evil has given us such confidence in the flesh and the mind. It has really made us ignorant to God’s ways. Why does the Bible say that we have no need that man should teach us anything? Because to walk in the Spirit is have open communion with God and His knowledge base, i.e. revelation. Christians do not experience this because of the “leaven” that has polluted there souls. Although the Bible teaches this plainly we continue to follow the traditions of the organizational church which effectively closes the door on the Spirit. It is true, nearly all of Christendom is in a state of apostasy today and Jeremiah 23 sounds the warning of “woe” on the shepherds/pastors who tend the flock of God. This was true at Jesus first coming, and it will be true at His second coming. There is really no excuse for this, the word is plain enough for the simplest fertile mind. Those who would dare to break out of the mold will find themselves just as the Bible declares, being persecuted. It is strange how all the pieces start coming together once we “will to do His will.” We are told by Jesus that
    “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31,32. We do not need mystical experiences, candles, worship bands, Lectio Divina, contemplative prayer, accountability partners, spirit guides, standing up and sitting down on cue, prophetic utterances, etc., etc., etc. What we need is obedience. What we need is to offer ourselves as living sacrifice. Men on sacrificial altars die. Dead men can do nothing; dead men own nothing; and dead men know nothing. Our 401K’s are not ours, our homes are not ours, our families are not ours. We have nothing and we own nothing, because we are “dead.” What we need is faith and trust to really believe that. Jesus did nothing that He did not see and hear the Father do. How is that possible? Because before He died on the cross, He died to the flesh, just as He instructs us to do, if we will please Him, and see eternal life. “Know ye not that ye have died with Christ.” “Then recon yourself dead.”

    Well, I could go on, but I think you get my drift. We know nothing till we know it through Christ. If we ask God for wisdom, He will show us more of His Son. If we ask for deliverence we will be shown Jesus. If we ask for anything from our Heavenly Father His answer will always be the same, “Follow Jesus.” We cannot rely on the wisdom of this world, be it religious or secular. “The Holy Spirit will lead you into all righteousness” trust Him.

    Steve Blackwell

  4. Amen brother, Amen!

    From my earliest days as a Christian, I could not, for the life of me, figure out why so many Christians were afraid of dying or getting old. I am with you in this: “we find ourselves welcoming death, and the sooner the better”. Not because I am depressed or hopeless; just the opposite! I can’t wait to get HOME! Like the patriarchs and prophets of old we look for a “better country”.

    I thank the Lord that, while my flesh is weak in many ways, I have lost my desire to own things and get more recognition. It encourages me a lot to know other believers say they truly are willing to give it all up (401Ks, houses, cars, collections) if only God will use us in some wonderful way! That is easy to say and not mean, but I believe those who truly know and understand the insignificance of this world compared to the glories of the one we have inherited through Christ, have no hooks in them.

    I am pleased to know you Steve. You encourage me, when so many, who I consider brothers and sisters, seem so enamored with the things of this world. I like my job, but I hate how much time it takes away from the service and worship of my King. I am so glad God has given me ways to teach His Word and make disciples in my spare time. It still doesn’t seem like anything significant, but it is, I believe and pray, as Jesus credited Mary in Mark 14:8, doing what I can do.

    God bless and keep you brother.

    Steve Foltz

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