Thursday, October 18, 2001

Response to "Inquiring Minds Want to Know about 1 Cor. 15:28" (Thank you Pastor Ron Beckham!):

Verse 28. "Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all."

J. Vernon McGee says this means that when Christ has completed His millennial reign here on earth and has established His eternal reign, then He will return back to His place in the Godhead, where He was in the beginning, so "God may be all in all."

I like that, but there is also more. There’s an eagerness here, to return and be with the Father. This is hard for us to understand, because people generally don’t like to be abandoned in subjection to anyone. But real love delights in serving His Beloved. You have to understand that God is so utterly love, that it is His sheer delight to become One with those He loves. Jesus, of course, knows that, and longed to return to the place of the Father.

I believe subjection, in its true sense is an expression of love. The "wife in subjection to her husband", just means she loves him. The true nature of the Trinity is love. They are "One" in many ways, but it all stems from the reality that they are utterly in love with one another. We just have the first hint of the love we will walk in for all eternity.

Response to "Inquiring Minds Want to Know about 1 Cor. 15:28" (Thank you Pastor Bob Elliff!):

An important point to remember when examining I Corinthians 15:28 it that the word “subject” has nothing to do with the essential nature or being of Christ. The word “subject” points to Christ’s “functional” subjection to God the Father.
Jesus has always been and forever will be in subjection to the Father because this is the nature of the relationship of the Persons in the Trinity. But, that does not mean Jesus is any less God than the Father; it simply reflects the hierarchical relationship in the Godhead. There is no contradiction in affirming both an equality of being and a functional subordination among Persons in the Godhead. Christ is His divine nature is fully equal to the Father, though relationally (or functionally) He is subordinate or submissive.

That’s how it is with men and women. Though they are completely equal in their nature (Genesis 1:26-28; Galatians 3:28), there is a hierarchical relationship that exists between them (1 Corinthians 11:3). The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge comments, “The subordination…of the Son to the Father is a voluntary though evidently permanent relationship which does not detract from or deny the equal deity of the Son, any more than the divine order of submission of the wife to the husband (1 Corinthians 11:3) in the husband/wife relationship detracts from her essential equality and humanity, or implies her inferiority.”

What is 1 Corinthians teaching? I the eternal plan of salvation, the eternal Son’s role was to become the Mediator (the go-between) between man and God the Father. But this role as Mediator is not eternal in its scope. In that future time when the task of man’s redemption is complete, the Mediator (Christ) voluntarily surrenders the kingdom to the One who sent Him into the world to accomplish redemption, God the Father. At that time, the Son’s mediatorial role will be completed. “When he delivers up the administration of the earthly kingdom to the Father, then the triune God will reign as God and no longer through the incarnate Son.” Indeed, “throughout the endless ages of eternity, the triune God will permeate the universe with His celestial love and glory. God will then be immediately known by all. What a glorious destiny awaits the redeemed of the Lord.”

(This is taken from the book, “Reasoning From The Scriptures” by Ron Rhodes)

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

"And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all."
- 1st Corinthians 15:28

I don't understand this verse, it implies that the structure of the Trinity Itself is a temporary arrangement (although in this case "temporary" lasts literally for aeons), until God can get things properly organized and ordered - the whole creation "subdued" under Jesus, Jesus "subject to" the Father. In Greek it is the same word for "subdued" and "subject to" which is "hupotasso" (subordinate, to obey, to submit to).
It's like God the Father will ultimately absorb everyone and everything! And His method for doing that is to use the Holy Spirit to draw people to Jesus, and Jesus to draw people to the Father, Who then absorbs everyone and everything (including the Spirit and the Son) and is then described as "all in all" (in Greek: "pas" - every, whole, whatsoever, etc.).
So, does that mean that the Trinity itself is not ultimately eternal - without beginning and without end, as we have been taught in Evangelical Protestant Christian Theology, or is the Trinity simply the arrangement that "God the Father" came up with to organize His relationship to His creation?
Was it once-upon-a-pre-time that the Being we refer to as "God the Father" simply existed, and that when He decided to create a creation, He used different attributes of Himself packaged in different ways - His "Spirit" to communicate to His creation, and His "Son" to demonstrate His character, His nature, and His love, and to be used as a redemptive tool? And that in fact His ULTIMATE, ULTIMATE plan is to reabsorb everything after He has finished arranging it in the proper order?
Somehow this thought is scary to me, as if the Spirit and the Son are temporary (even if "temporary" means millions of years) expedient arrangements themselves, and not the coexistent, co-eternal parts of the Godhead we've been taught they are. Of course theologians are notorious for being WRONG about stuff. Inquiring minds want to know!

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

I received this from my dear Pastor Bob Elliff this morning:
This was passed to us from a dear friend from Community Church of Greenwood...Dear ones: This was passed on from a dear friend in Arizona. . . Hello Dear Friends,
I heard such a wonderful thing at church today that I knew I would have to share it with you all. Most of you already know that our pastor is Max Lucado, a Christian author who is very popular for his many wonderful books about the Lord.
This week, Max was invited (along with several other famous preachers) to have lunch at the White House with President Bush. Their meeting took place on Thursday and Max shared with us this morning how it had gone.
As the ministers sat down to lunch and waited for President Bush to
appear, Max said that he was expecting G.W. Bush to walk in the room looking tired, serious,
and depressed.
When the President came in, Max said he looked totally the opposite of tired: he was energetic, joyful, and very focused on his talk with the ministers.
Max asked President Bush how he could seem so calm and peaceful in the midst of all the tragedy. The President's reply was, "I'm feeling stronger now than
I've ever been in my life. And the reason is because every person in America is praying for me. When I stay on my knees, that's when I have power."

The ministers then asked the President how he would like them to pray
for him, and how their congregations back home should be praying. Mr. Bush asked,
first, for clarity of mind so that he could make wise decisions,
and then he asked that we pray specifically for his wife and two
daughters, as he is very concerned about their safety.

Monday, October 15, 2001

People all over are praying for the President during this time of war. There is even a web site dedicated to praying for the President. I wonder if people are praying all different things, like: "Lord, give Dubya the cajones to smite the Infidel," or "Lord, give our President a clear mind and make him stop all this madness." I suspect there will be many contradictory prayers registered in heaven. I trust God to separate the prayer wheat from the prayer chaff, so to speak.

Sunday, October 14, 2001

The Chebar!

I'd like to let everyone know about a wonderful new web site: It's called "The Chebar," and it is published by my long-time friend Jim Burns, who has known me since we were both 18 and I was a tie-dyed in the wool pagan and he was a wet-behind-the-ears nice Christian boy from New Jersey, just come to California to start his freshman year at college at USC. Modesty and good taste prevents me from detailing the ups and downs of our relationship over the last 25 years, but I will relate that Jim alone was brave enough to face me down with a bible and a crucifix when I was blazing away on LSD and trying to attack him with an Easter Lily (you had to be there, Spring of 1978, to appreciate the irony of the scene). Anyway, visit The Chebar for the best of Jewish/Christian Scriptural study.
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." - John 3:14-15

An outrageous claim made by an outrageous radical rabbi - no wonder the entrenched religious authority structures of the time constantly tried to kill Him! The brass serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness (Numbers 21) was the image of the instrument of punishment that the Israelites had received for their sin - which was complaining against God for the way in which He was leading them, and complaining about the provision which He was providing for their sustenance on their journey: manna (in Hebrew: "mah nah," a question: "What is this?").

Yet, because of God's mercy and grace, the very instrument of their punishment became, in the hands of Moses, the instrument of their healing. Jesus likened Himself to that brass serpent. Just like in the days of Moses, God's people were complaining against God for the way in which He was leading them and for the provision He was providing for them on their journey. Jesus plainly told people He was both "the way" (John 14:6) and "the bread of life which came down from heaven" (manna - John 6:33-35).

More outrageous claims! We never DO like the way God does things, nor do we have a natural taste for His way of providing for us - we ask, "What IS this?" Yet by His grace, for "He knows the way we are made, that we are but dust" (Psalm 103:14), Jesus allowed Himself to be made into the image of the instrument of our own woundedness - the original wound, separation from God, and all the subsequent consequences that follow that woundedness - and if we will but realize (come to a conscious realization that we are indeed wounded, and in fact, dying!) we can look upon Him, lifted up, and be healed.

Lord, I pray for myself and for all my friends and loved ones, that by Your Holy Spirit You might illuminate those parts our our hearts that have been darkened by defeat, despair, doubt, and depression. We confess that often we resent both Your way and Your provision, and complain within our hearts about the journey and what You have given us for our nourishment and sustenance on that journey. Open the eyes of my heart, of our hearts, and cause us to see the beauty, the purpose, and the ultimate destination of Your way and to taste your manna and find Your specific, personal answer when we ask of You: "what is this?"

Lord, we confess that indeed we are mere dust, yet You have by Your grace breathed Your breath of life into us, making us a living soul and spirit, giving us the incredible gift of being made in Your image. Cause us to be grateful for this breath, for every breath we breathe we are breathing by Your grace. Open our eyes to those around us, and may the scales of "religious"self righteousness and entrenched, stale, man-made teachings fall from our eyes, and may we be filled with such outrageous love for EVERYONE in our lives, "Believer" and "non-Believer" alike, because they, like we, are made in Your image, and they, like we, are recipients of Your grace. Help us to remember how, in the days of His earthly ministry, Jesus dined with "sinners," hung out with "Pharisees and publicans," and scandalized everyone (including His own disciples) by especially honoring the weakest and most disenfranchised members of society: women and children, "Samaritans," the handicapped, the down and out "losers."

Make us Lord, as individuals and as a Body of Believers scattered throughout the world, as outrageous as Jesus, as willing to take risks, and give us joy on this way and gratitude for Your guidance and provision.
Hello to all! Sunday, and I've been up since 4am thanks to my dog Sammy, 9 lbs of self-involved narcissism, who decided recently that nocturnal barking was his new hobby. All he really wants is attention: can I blame him? Isn't that all any of us really want? Hence the advent of BLOGGING itself, and the creation of this cyber-space in which to deposit my musings, ramblings, stern lectures, impatient exhortations, and other methods of reaching out and tweaking what's between YOUR ears! So far today I've written an email "sermonette" based on John 3:14-15 and sent it to my "Christian" email list, and I've responded to my friend Ron Beckham's email defense of Billy Graham's participation in the prayer service at the National Cathedral following the attacks on the WTC. Ron (who is the Pastor of the first-ever church on the Internet, writes in his email that certain Christian friends have expressed their opinion that Rev. Graham shouldn't have joined together in prayer with those who aren't "Christians." Needless to say (or, is it really needless?) I had something to say about that.
My reply to Ron: "Our willingness to listen to the prayers and spiritual and religious perspectives of others does two positive things. One, it gives us an insight into the point of view of another and allows us to identify any possible "common ground" - a place where we might stand with them, a jumping-off point from which to lead them to the gospel (think of Paul at Mars Hill!) and two, it is a loving and SECURE thing to do, demonstrating respect for the other person by being willing to listen and secure enough in our own standing in Christ, our relationship with the Lord, and our infilling of the Holy Spirit to not feel threatened by having a dialogue of prayer with someone who we don't agree with.

I know people who watched that prayer service and had never heard Billy Graham speak before, and they were moved and softened in their spirit. I myself gained much insight into the liturgies and theological perspectives of a whole bunch of other religious groups (variations on the theme of "Christian" among them!) and it made me more appreciative than ever of being an American, able to live in a country where the State does not INSTITUTIONALIZE any religion (thanks to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers) but leave room for truth to do what it does best: rise to the top.

Osama bin Ladin wants a theocracy based on a radical reading of Islamic fundamentalism. Frankly, the events of 9/11 have made me shudder at the knowledge that within MY own "peer group" (very broadly speaking, Protestant Evangelical Fundamentalism) there are those who also want a theocracy, based on a radical reading of Christian Fundamentalism. I dare to say that if these particular folks had their way in America, those who did not profess their particular brand of Christianity would be hounded, harassed, and maybe even worse than that.

In what we call "The Lord's Prayer," Jesus instructs His disciples to pray to the Father: "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." When the kingdom is established within our own individual hearts, the King reigns over our own individual lives, and His will is done on earth (in our own earthly bodies and in the realm of our own earthly existence) as it is in heaven. The King's "Royal Law" (James 2:8) is LOVE. When I see love of God and love of others operating in someone's life, I see "the kingdom come," and I rejoice. When I see darkness, hate, bigotry, fear, and small-mindedness operating in the lives of people who deny they have these traits but claim they are "walking the narrow way" or "being faithful to the Word," I grieve. I SEE BOTH ALL THE TIME. And so we go on, day by day."