~ The Spirit of The Law ~

“The spirit of the law is the reason or motive for keeping the law, the principle or purpose behind it.  The ultimate spirit of the law is love, which comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith ( 1 Timothy 1:5).  The letter of the law is its literal meaning without regard to the motive or principle behind it.  This deals with the outward keeping of the law.  The letter of the law may change, but the spirit behind it is immutable (absolute and unchangeable).  It is possible to break the letter of the law without breaking the spirit of the law (Matthew 12:1-5, 10-13) and it is also possible to keep the letter of the law and yet break the sprit of the law. (Matthew 5:28; 6:2,5; 23:23; Romans 2:27)

True obedience to the law is not simply outward (keeping of the letter of the law) but comes from within, from the motive or reason behind the outward act. (Matthew 23:27, 28; Romans 2:29; 7:6: II Corinthians 3:6)” [1]

In the image above King Solomon is depicted as rendering a judgement between two women who contended that the child between them was their own.  In the narrative the two woman ‘harlots’ gave birth within a few days of each other, and they alone lived in their house.  One claimed that the other gave birth and overlaid the infant in her sleep so that it died.  A convincing expansion was told by the first but denied by the second. The event is recorded in 1 Kings. 3:16-29 and is the first judgment of Solomon after the Lord appeared to him and granted his request for wisdom to lead His people.

Solomon’s solution was simple – “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other” (verse 25).  He knew that the real mother valued the child’s life for its own sake.  One loved the child and was willing to suffer loss so that it would live.  There is a profound truth revealed in the insight of Solomon.  Man is wired for benevolence and even in the worst conditions of moral turpitude the foundations of natural law, that is, the law written on their hearts by God, will always be revealed.   We instinctively know what ‘benevolence’ is whether we can verbalize it or not.

It it clear that even many Christians do not understand the simplicity of what God requires from man.  It’s first impress is written on the heart of every man coming into the word.  The second impress was at Sinai from the voice of God.  An since the life, teaching and atonement of Christ we are finally brought back to one word – Love (benevolence, the spirit of the law).

“For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom 13:9-10 KJV)

1. Harry Conn, “Four Trojan Horses,” published by Parson Publishing, p106

Parables Of The Kingdom ~ H. B. Swete

Introductory

THE word ‘parable’ has come to us from the Greek παραβολή through the Latin versions of the Gospels which usually had parabola, though occasionally they translated the word by similitudo. According to the etymology of the word παραβολή is the act of laying one thing by the side of another for the purpose of comparing them together. Thence, by an easy transition, it comes to mean a comparison, a similitude. In the Greek of the Old Testament παραβολή frequently represents mashal, a word which is used to cover many kinds of literary composition from the proverb to the prophecy or poem. Balaam and Job are both said in the Lxx to have taken up their ‘parable,’ when a prophetic or didactic poem is attributed to them. The Proverbs of Solomon are in Aquila’s literal translation of the Old Testament Παραβολή. Even in the Gospels ‘parable’ is now and again used for a proverbial saying: Ye will surely say unto me this parable, Physician, heal thyself; [1] or for short *(Foot notes enclosed in ‘[ ]’ )  [1) Lk. iv. 23.] 

figurative utterances such as, If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand;[1] or, The things that proceed out of the man are those that defile the man: [2] or, Can the blind lead the blind [3] But by far the most usual acceptance of “parable’ in the Gospels is that in which it stands for the longer comparisons which our Lord draws between the facts of Nature or of our outer life and the things which concern our spiritual life and the dealings of God with men. The parables of Christ possess a character which is peculiar to themselves. Myths, fables, allegories are common in literature ancient and modern ; but there is no other collection of ‘parables’ that can be placed in comparison with those which we find in the Gospels. Their extraordinary beauty is recognized by all; the intimate knowledge which they shew of Nature and of man is not less unique than their beauty. Yet it is not either their literary beauty or their exact correspondence with the facts of life which gives to the parables their supreme interest. That interest lies in the knowledge that they constitute a very considerable part of the recorded teaching of our Lord. Both the method of teaching which they illustrate, and the actual instruction of which they are the vehicle, are heirlooms which cannot be prized too much, especially by those who are themselves to be teachers of Christian truth. [ 1.) Mk. iii. 24; 2.) Mk. vii. 15; 3.) Lk. vi. 39.]

The use of this method began, as far as we can judge, at a particular juncture in our Lord’s life. His earlier teaching had excited strong opposition on the part of Pharisees and Scribes, and was evidently but little understood by the crowds who followed Him. He could not cease from teaching, but He could change His manner of imparting truth; and this He did. Again, St. Mark iv. 1 says, he began to teach by the sea : and a very great multitude came together to him . . . and he proceeded to teach them many things in parables. So it began; and the in exhaustible supply continued to the end of His life. If we ask the purpose of this method, the question is answered by our Lord Himself in St. Mark iv. 2 . To you, He said to the Twelve, has been given the mystery—the Divine Secret—of the kingdom of God : but to those—pointing to the crowds—to the men who are without, the whole is done in parables, that beholding they may behold, and not see, and hearing they may hear, and not understand. This is, as you are aware, not the explanation which is ordinarily given. Our Lord is commonly represented as having spoken these exquisite similitudes with the view of helping the common people to understand His spiritual teaching; whereas His own account of the matter is that He

meant by them to conceal rather than reveal the truth He taught. The German scholar, Jülicher, finds this so impossible to believe that he supposes these words attributed to Christ to be in truth a late inter pretation of Christ’s purpose, and a false one.” But there is no substantial ground for this hypothesis; the very unexpectedness of the saying proclaims it original; and I think that we can see that it is also true. The parables must in fact have veiled the truth from those who were not ready to receive it in its naked simplicity, while at the same time they pre served it in the memory, in readiness for the time, if it ever came, when men would be prepared for it. For us, to whom the Divine Secret has been given, the parables throw ever growing light upon it, and are an inexhaustible store of spiritual teaching. It is to the teaching of the parables that I wish to direct your thoughts this term * or rather to the teaching of a single group of parables; for the field as a whole is too large. We shall select what I have called the ‘Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven’; and by this for our present purpose I mean those in which the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God is distinctly placed in comparison with the subject of the parable. They usually begin with the formula The Kingdom of Heaven is likened to, or, So is the [ 1.) A. Jülicher, Gleichnisreden Jesu, 1er Teil, 146-7; 2.) Lent Term, 1908.]

Kingdom of God, or, How shall we liken the Kingdom of God? or, To what is the Kingdom of God like? [1] Most of them, that is, are preceded by words which leave no doubt that our Lord intended them to have reference to the Kingdom. But this is not uni versally the case: the very first and one of the greatest of this series, the Parable of the Sower, does not begin thus, and yet we can have no doubt that it belongs to them. I propose to read and con sider these parables first, and then to collect their teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven. Our examination must be rapid, and I must assume that the Greek text is fairly familiar to you, and almost limit myself to the interpretation.
}
The Kingdom of Heaven or of God
{
But first something must be said about the conception of ‘the Kingdom of Heaven” or ‘of God,” which underlies all these parables. The whole teaching of Jesus Christ, at least the Galilean teaching, centres round three or four leading ideas, and the foremost of these is that of the Kingdom of God. It was by no means what we should call an ‘original conception; the corresponding Aramaic [ 1.) the passage in Greek is not included here. ]

phrase is frequent in later Jewish writers, and the idea of a Divine Sovereignty over the world, but especially over Israel, is scarcely less prominent in the Old Testament than in the New. We recognize this when we speak of the Jewish polity as a theo cracy; but in fact it was never more firmly held than in days when the Jews were under foreign government. And it was by no means dead when Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent ye ; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.[1] To those who heard Him He must have seemed to foretell the downfall of the Roman rule in Palestine, and the return of the old theocracy. That, as we now know, was not his meaning; but if not, what was it? Kingdom in this phrase means Sovereignty rather than the sphere in which the Sovereign reigns; the Kingdom of God is the imperium of God and not the area or the people over which it is exercised. In the first Gospel the sovereignty of the heavens is usually substituted for the sovereignty of God. There is little difference of meaning between the two expressions; the later Jews used heaven for God, as in Dan iv. 26, The heavens do rule; but whilstof God, του θεου, calls attention to the Person of the Sovereign, of Heaven,Των ουρανων, directs it to the quarter from which the sovereignty would come : it would be heavenly, spiritual, not earthly. It may well have been that  [1.) Mt. iv.17; the Aramaic in the original is left off.]

our Lord usually preferred this phrase, since it struck the keynote of His conception of the Divine Kingdom. For this is the distinctive character of the new theocracy which Christ preaches. It is purely spiritual and ethical, a sovereignty exerted over men’s hearts and lives by the Divine Spirit swaying the human spirit and co-operating with it. This sovereignty is a kingdom of heaven, βασιλεια των ουρανων from above, of the eternal order, and yet it has its seat in man. The kingdom of God, our Lord teaches, is within you,εντοσ υμων εστιν. [1] This is the leading thought which the parables illustrate. I will not anticipate what they will teach us about it. We shall see that simple and easy of comprehension as the idea may seem to be, it is really complex in the highest degree, entering into all the departments of human life, and reaching forth into the most remote future.  [1.) Lk. xvii.21]

~ “Am I A Man Dreaming He Is A Butterfly?” ~

“am i a man dreaming he is a butterfly,
or am i a butterfly dreaming i’m a man?”

-chuang tzu
circa 500 BC

In the East the fundamental idea about reality is Maya. That is, that which can be seen is an illusion. In the West the Judaeo-Christian view of God and natural law lend credence to our basic awareness of ourselves, others and the world around us. According to Robert Oppenheimer that is the reason why modern science could never have developed in the East.

Consciousness is a subject that on the surface seems to be a “no-brainer.” Everybody knows what consciousness is. If you are reading this text you must be conscious. But how does one prove that they are conscious? That sounds pretty silly right? You wouldn’t think that philosophy has been preoccupied with that very question for thousands of years, but it has.

Since the Enlightenment of the 1600’s questions about what man is took a more analytical turn and postulations like “I think, therefore I am” gained popularity for the apparent simplicity of statement. But what is not generally recognized is that it presumed that man can start with himself and prove by reason basic realities of existence. But when you get right down to it, just being able to give a statement that satisfies reason for one’s existence does nothing to “prove” it objectively. That is, your existence is not proved to anyone else by the recitation of Descartes famous “I think, therefore I am”.

But why does anyone need to prove their existence to either themselves or anyone else for that matter? Obviously, they do not. One goes about their everyday existence without needing to have an objective proof of ones existence. Everyone you’ve ever met has presumed the truthfulness of their own perceptions of themselves, the world and even you.

The Bible affirms that this synchronicity with the world and others is from God’s own hand. “He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works. (Psa 33:15 KJV). And not only are we fashioned for communication with our peers, but we were fashioned to be able to receive and communicate back to God.

In Romans shows the universality of the knowledge of God in part because we have a moral sense that is another endowment of personality in being made in the Image and Likeness of God.

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Rom 2:14-16 KJV)

Paul expounds upon the notion that our inmate moral sense of right and wrong in itself it self is a witness that we all will give an account of our lives. It will be the testimony of our own conscience which will determine how Good deals with us. That commends an urgency for us to find out all we can about the Kingdom of God now. And know that He has revealed the method that He has declared is the only means of forgiveness. And that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

~ CHRISTIAN LOVE: How Disinterested? ~

Screenshot 2014-12-27 10.15.44

Edwards had held a lofty notion of self-regard as the “joy” of consent to being, including consent to one’s own being, in contrast to definitions of self-regard in clearly self-interested terms.

He was convinced on empirical grounds that the will always seeks the happiness of the agent such that the notion of selfless love is an abstraction divorced from concrete human experience. Also, God is the exemplar of perfect happiness who shares this aspect of himself with the saints. Consequently, love of one’s own happiness is not eradicated by Christianity.

Edwards’ was influenced by his maternal grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, an orthodox Puritan. in his suspicion of the radical renunciation of the natural inclination of the self towards personal happiness. He was also influenced by Samuel Willard’s lectures: “God having put into a man a natural desire after happiness or well-being, makes use of it to help him in his duty. Willard concluded that God deals with man in a way that is suited to his nature.  For Willard, Stoddard, and Edwards, the renunciation of all self-regard claimed by some as the highest reach of Christian love made little sense.

If Christianity did indeed tend to destroy man’s love for himself, and to his own happiness, it would threaten to destroy the very spirit of humanity. … That the saint seeks happiness is as necessary to his own nature as the faculty of the will is; and it is impossible that such a love should be destroyed in any other way than by destroying his being.

Edwards reconciliation of Christian love with self-regard emerges from the empirical observations regarding the will. Every being that has understanding and will, he wrote, necessarily loves happiness. In Edwards mind, the desire for happiness is a brute empirical fact, and one that any doctrine of love must take into account. Men love to be loved by others and without any connotations that such love is sub-Christiaan.

It was Edwards conviction that what could be empirically ascertained accords with scriptural warrant. Finally, Edwards maintained that the saint shares in the happiness of God. During his own early conversion experiences, he noted the “sweetness” and the “joys” of being touched by the Holy Spirit. In his writing’s on the Trinity, he argued that God the Father experiences supreme joy in mutual relation with the Son, such that abundant happiness pours out from the Godhead and fills the hearts of the saints.

* The above selected comments were taken from -“Disinterested Benevolence: An American Debate Over The Nature of Christian Love” by Stephen Post. Source: The Journal of Religious Ethics. Vol 14. No 2(Fall 1986). pp. 356-368. .

~❦ The Nuances of God’s Sovereignty ❦~

Hand_of_God's_Sovereignty_II

Traditional understandings of God’s sovereignty depict a single all powerful force that ultimately controls all things in the universe.  It is true that the “Hand of God” cannot be resisted by force.  The same hand that created the universe also upholds the material universe.  We see evidence of God’s handiwork everywhere we look for it is impossible that the endless marvels of nature could have come about randomly over long eons.

But the Bible reveals a sovereignty in the Kingdom of God that is nuanced and has different manifestations according to the kind of creation that we consider.  In inanimate creation the law of causality rules supreme, given an adequate force the outcomes is guaranteed. There is no uncertainty there.  In animate (non moral) creation causality is augmented by instinct which in itself is a mystery.  But in the moral universe, where God’s Benevolence desired to create finite beings in His own image and likeness, we are shown an even more wonderful nuance in His sovereignty.

In God’s rulership over mankind He does not rule by force or by instinct, although at times He exercises both to accomplice His purposes.  But the grand distinction in the Moral Kingdom God seeks to influence us by ideas and persuade us by revealed consequences to direct us to choosing His benevolent purpose for our lives.   God is love, that is, He is benevolent and has  been so from eternity.  Love does not coerce, this we know as surely as we know that we exist.  And the truth is that by our very creation in His image and likeness He cannot force us to choose love as a purpose for life.  To talk of forcing a free will to choose to do His will is, on the face of it an absurdity.  He doesn’t sneak in behind our conscious minds and overwhelm our will to choose to love Him.  A reality that traditional understandings of God don’t seem to comprehend.

If your view of God’s sovereignty is one of absolute power, then you only see the hand of God in monochrome.  But if you can receive it, the Bible reveals the true nature of God’s sovereignty as nuanced and perfectly adapted to the kind of life He has created.  Those created in His Image have a special purpose.  He created us to that we might freely choose to join Him in living in truth and love.

~ Just An Old Fashion Love Song ~

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 11.50.01 PM
“Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.

4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?    (Isa 5:1-4 KJV)

Can we believe our eyes?

This is not the language of the God of traditional theology! He is distant, aloof, indeed out of time and consequently out of our ability to feel the weight of prophetic lament.

If you wait just a bit longer, and read the passage again you just might feel that the stirring of hope. Hope that the sound of pain and lament in our own hearts is indeed a synchronous wave of God’s own. A Pulse really, that suffuses the universe. For all that it has become is marked by selfishness.

If you value the truthfulness of Scripture and have not adopted the escapisms of higher criticism then you have a right to believe that the prophet Isaiah’s experience as prophet of the Lord has been profoundly affected, humbled and cleaned by exposure to the Heart of God.

In this passage we are presented, in a song of lament, sung by the Lord Himself, with a God who invested deeply in the nation of Israel at great personal cost to reap the fruit of benevolence but was sorely disappointed.

Is this a genuine accounting of God’s inner life? Does this ethos extend even further back to creation?

~❦ True Sin Bearing ❦~

Human Governments are embarrassed for want of an Atonement.

In all of human history when ever pardon is shown to the guilty the law and the good it seeks to preserve is lessened. There is no adequate answer for that demonstration.

Punishing another for the crime committed by an individual is conceptually misguided. It violates our intuitive sense of justice. The guilty shall bear their punishment because they thought to abuse and steal from the public good by their selfishness. To punish another has no effect on the public at large to deter sin. Rather it would engender disrespect and ill will towards the government. Punishing the innocent for the guilty is the meanest kind of barbarism.

The government derives no pleasure at the punishment of the innocent, nor the guilty unless it be because some regard is shown towards the greater good by restraining the offender.

In the Kingdom of God, we must have the same regard for Him if He punishes the innocent in place of the guilty. We could not love or respect Him for instituting an arbitrary and ill suited deprivation of the good of the innocent for the guilty.

Vicarious, substituted suffering is not punishment, nor can it be.

The idea of inserting sufferer’s underneath the consequence of the literal punishment of the law is not God’s righteousness. At least that’s what Paul says in this passage:

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Rom 3:21-26 )

Most do not get “without law” in verse 21.

Exegetically one has to account for the word “punished” in association with Christ’s sufferings because of this passage:

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isa 53:5-6 KJV)

The Jew’s did not have the “legal” mindset of Augustine or Luther in that regard. For if “bearing the iniquity of another” meant being punished in their place the exact equivalent of their crime, then this passage makes no sense:

Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.” (Eze 4:4-6 KJV)

Yet the traditional view of Christ being exactly punished for the sins of the world has nearly eclipsed the plain testimony of Scripture.

As a result, not even 1 in a thousand can explain “sin bearing” as propitiation for the sins of the world. How what Jesus did, upholds the law, deters sin, reforms the heart of the offender, and guarantees the future good behavior all those who come to God by Him.

“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1Jo 2:2 KJV)

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (1Jo 4:10-11 KJV)

“And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.” (Luk 24:46-48 KJV)

Part of the Atonement consisted in teaching the Sin lesson, by allowing Jesus to be given over into the hands of the Chief Priests and then the Gentiles for a time.

They demonstrated what selfishness will do to keep the light out from convicting the conscience. Jesus is the Light of the World.

But that was not “sin bearing”.

Paul knew a little of what Christ carried through out his ministry.

I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: (Rom 9:2-3 KJV)

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Mat 23:37-39 KJV)

We are told how Jesus was bearing our sins in His ministry:

And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:

–>That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” (Mat 8:14-17 KJV)

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (Joh 1:29 KJV)

“taketh away”= bearing: αἴρων verb participle *present active* nominative masculine singular from αἴρω

[GING] αἴρω αἴρω—1. raise, lift, take up, pick up Mt 16:24; Lk 17:13; J 8:59; keep in suspense J 10:24; weigh (anchors) Ac 27:13; take or carry along Mt 16:24; 27:32; w. φωνή cry out loudly Lk 17:13. The transition to mng. 2 may be seen in J 1:29, where αἴ. means both take up and remove.—2. take or carry away, remove

John was declaring that Jesus was picking up and bearing away the sins of the world. Present tense.

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Pe 2:24 KJV)

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb 9:14 KJV)

These last two passages provide us with the Scriptural description of how sin bearing was brought to a climax.

In 1 Peter 2:24 we have bore … up to the tree

αὐτὸς ἀνήνεγκεν ἐν τῷ σώματι αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον,

And in Hebrews 9:14 were are told that the Spirit of God was quickening into intercessory identification and burden for the sins of the world such that His body failed under His continued voluntary choosing to “bear the burden and continual sorrow” i.e., the sin’s of the world.

He laid down His life in intercessory burden unto death. It was His will to bear that burden till His body could not endure any longer.

It seems clear that He felt this rupture of the heart as he cried out in a loud voice “It is finished” and ‘Into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”

This is a different paradigm than the punitive version of traditional theology, but I believe I have showed each aspect of Scriptural fulfillment and description of what kind of “sin bearing” Jesus was carrying and the supernatural means by which He was given to see things from the Fathers perspective, as it were.”

Salvation is not the acceptance of a creedal statement, but rather a confrontation with the reality of Christ’s suffering unto death for our sins. And in as much as “no man can say Jesus is Lord” but by the Spirit, it is the same to say that:

…before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Gal 3:1 KJV)

It is the “eyes of the heart” that Christ is “set forth” to those whom the Father has taught and have learned who are given to this revelation of Jesus – and they WILL come to Him.

And really, the following passage teaches us more about Christ suffering by revelation and experience ( though ours has none of the purpose or degree of Christ’s sufferings) and should find a resonance of common knowing in those who do have the Spirit.

And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. 24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. 26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 (Rom 8:1 KJV)

Intercession, is the continual language of the Godhead among Themselves:

Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:25 NAS)

…because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isa 53:12 KJV)

~❦ JESUS IN GETHSEMANE ❦ ~

 

The “grief and sorrow” that Christ was experiencing in Gethsemane seems to be a confluence of issues, but what He said about it is revealing:

Matthew’s account:

“..began to be sorrowful and very heavy”…”My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: (Mat 26:37,38 )

ἤρξατο λυπεῖσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν…περίλυπός ἐστιν ἡ ψυχή μου ἕως θανάτου· (Mat 26:37,38)

“…ἤρξατο (ind. aor. mid. dep) λυπεῖσθαι (inf. pres. pas) καὶ ἀδημονεῖν” (inf. pres. act).

Began is aorist (i.e. punctiliar or sudden), sorrowful is present tense passive) suggestive of the result of something experienced, and very heavy is present tense active voice a vivid expression of emotive force.

Mark’s account:

“…began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. (Mar 14:33,34)

“…ἤρξατο ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν … περίλυπός ἐστιν ἡ ψυχή μου ἕως θανάτου·

Again ‘began’ is ind. aorist indicating or highlighting the suddenness of the experience. But Mark uses a different word:

ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι = sore amazed a compound of ek + thambeo. Note “thambeo” is to be amazed and even terrified. Add the preposition “ek” out of from within intensifies the previous state of being stunned or even terrified.

And these “to the point of death”.

When one unpacks the words Jesus used to describe His experience it has all the earmarks of one being forcefully attacked.

There is no question that Jesus was “bearing (carrying a deep burden) over man’s sin and infirmities all through His ministry and here in Gethsemane as well. But there is a sudden addition of another kind on top of that being described.

And by His own words, felt as though he was being brought right up to the threshold of death.

The implications of his own words broadcast to the world that, contrary to common understanding, He was not praying to “stay the course” as if He was having last minute reservations about whether He was going to go through with the Father’s purpose to save the world by His death.  No, this description from His own lips tells us in no uncertain terms that He was being oppressed by the Devil in ways that we cannot imagine.  One need only recall the visions of Daniel of great forces at work in the world in spiritual realm and how just seeing them made him sick for days afterward.  Or Job who was set upon by Satan in full fury determined to force from his lips a curse upon God, for we read his philosophic in his own words – “all that a man has he will give for his own life!”.

Jesus said He was the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep.  He contrasted that with the “hireling” who sees the wolf coming flees, because he does not care for the sheep.  Jesus never wavered in His purpose to provide that means of propitiation whereby God could safely forgive sin.  One last stand must be broken through.  It was at Gethsemane that Satan must stop Jesus from his purpose and we learn from Jesus’ description of what He experienced just how terrible that was.   His prayer to have the “cup” removed was the cup of the present oppression by the devil that was traumatizing His person in body and mind.  He prayed to be delivered from the death that seemed upon Him there and WAS HEARD!  God, we are told, heard His prayer there and sent help in the form of an angel that strengthened Him.  When at last the contest ended He arouse to face His enemies with peace of heaven and ready to do His final work, “his passion” in dieing for the sins of the world.

Jesus has always been the Good Shepherd.  As the Apostle Peter said, “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” (1Pe 2:25)  Jesus is still the Good Shepherd.

~❦ FINNEY ON GETHSEMANE ❦ ~

” But it is objected again, that Christ prayed to be delivered from crucifixion, and his prayer was not answered. I reply, that he did not pray for this, if at all, unqualifiedly. He says, “If it be possible, nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” If it were the pains of the cross from which his soul shrunk in the garden, and from which he desired, if possible, to be excused, it is plain that he did not pray unqualifiedly to be delivered; but, on the contrary, submitted the question to the will of his Father. But in  the prayer, in John 17, he made no such condition. He knew that in this case it was his Father’s will to  grant his request. Of this he had…either expressly or impliedly, in this prayer, put in the condition that  was in the prayer just referred to, namely, “If it be thy will?” But, although what has been said is a full  answer to the assertion that Christ’s prayers are not always answered, it may be, for some minds,  important to say, that it is far from being certain that Christ prayed to be delivered from crucifixion. John xii. 23: “And Jesus answered them, saying, the hour is come, that the Son of man should be  glorified. 24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth  alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit. 25. He that loveth his life, shall lose it; and he that hateth  his life in this world, shall keep it unto life eternal. 26. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be; if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. 27. Now is my soul  troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour.  28. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and  will glorify it again.”

Here Christ plainly intimates, that he did not pray to escape the death to which he was appointed, and  for which he had come to that hour. But it may be asked, against what did Jesus pray in the garden? I  reply, against being overcome by the agony of his soul, and crushed to death before he came to the  cross. The following passages may throw some light upon this question: John xiv. 30: “Hereafter I will  not talk much with you; for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” Here he informs his disciples, that he must soon break off the conversation with them, for he was just  entering into a severe conflict with Satan. Matthew records the conflict through which the Saviour  passed, and of which he advised his disciples

Matt. xxvi. 37: “And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful  and very heavy. 38. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye  here, and watch with me. 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. 40. And he  cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What! could ye not watch with  me one hour? 41. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the  flesh is weak. 42. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and  take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46.  Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.”

Here it appears, that Christ had his last and great conflict with Satan. Satan set on him, as it appears, to  kill him outright with anguish.

Luke, in recording this transaction, says, xxii. 39: “And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the Mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. 40. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. 41. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42. Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done. 43. And there appeared an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44. And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, 16. And said to them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”

It is, I think, plain, that this struggle in the garden was a sore and overwhelming temptation, and that an angel was sent to assist him, by resisting and putting away Satan; that is, it was by sending an angel, that his Father answered his prayer. This prayer appears to have been heard and answered for from this time his mind remained calm. There is a passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that I think evidently refers to this scene.

Heb. v. 7: “Who, in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.” To what does this refer, if not to the death he feared in the garden? He said on that occasion, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death.” He then offered up prayer with strong crying and tears, and was heard, &c. To my mind all these circumstances taken together make it very evident, that Christ did not pray against the cross, in the petition under consideration, but that, on the contrary, he prayed to be delivered from temptation, and was heard and answered

But be this as it may, we are to remember that Christ expressly affirms, that his Father always hears, that is, answers his prayers.

John xi. 42: “And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.”

~ Hell, It’s Really Not About You ~

For those who are driven by a desire to inform the rest of mankind that the consequences of selfishness may not be as bad as their native intuitions portend I say, right out of the gate – you are speaking way over your pay grade. For some it may seem a credible theodicy to focus on the “bottom line” of what can be “proved” from Scripture but in the end there is no “proof” either way.

That is not to say that I am insensitive to the question and it’s outcome. I don’t think any will deny that the thought of endless punishment period strikes constitutional dread in the heart. But I have noted that there is a tendency in such discussions to lose sight of the intrinsic evil of those who make “Me-First” the modus operandi of life. 

End run’s on the question take the form of the denial of human dualism as “body and spirit”. If the the matrix of life is merely a phenomenal “hum”of neurons then the question of the persistence of identity after death becomes contingent and the issue of eternal damnation is removed from first order dread to “manageable” from the perspective of the living.

But debates on this topic these are inevitable. And the “inconvenient truth” that sin is much more than man ever imagines and is willing to be confronted with, seem easily set aside.

My bleat has been partially heard in what I’ve said, but I have sounded the unwelcome timbre of objection to buy a further moment. And that to point out the really bad part. And its not about you. Sorry.

It’s about the callous disregard for infinite capacity of experience of God in whose heart and mind the evil of sin is deeply most felt. The finite view and its concerns even at the end of consideration of a topic like this never seems to glance heavenward with the question, “what has sin done to You”?