Monthly Archives: May 2018

IN THE WORDS OF JESUS–Part 1604

ON LOVE; PART MCCXLIII

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GoodWill IS Love in Action

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FIRST IS THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

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WHAT THEN IS LOVE? In a general sense love is benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men. While this IS from an older definition of Charity, which IS rendered in the King James Bible from the same Greek word agape which IS generally rendered as Love, we should amend our own definition here to include the idea that in the reality of Love a man will accord to ALL men ALL things that he would accord to himself and to say that Love IS our thoughts and attitude of the equality of ALL men regardless of their outward nature or appearance…that ALL ARE equally children of Our One God

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PLUS THE EVER IMPORTANT AND HIGH IDEAL TAUGHT TO US BY THE CHRIST: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).

We ended the last essay as we began it, with some additional thoughts on the way that the doctrines of men have overwhelmed the Truth of the Master’s words and how this has ever been so. Moses’ dicta was a complex set of ideas based in what IS KNOWN as the Ten Commandments and while it IS unclear how that this evolved to include both the original intent of agape along with the more carnal aspects of the law, the Truth was KNOWN by the lawyer and the scribe in Jesus’ day. The lawyer recites the Great Commandments to the Master who acknowledges his pronouncement of the Truth saying “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live” (Luke 10:28) while the scribe acknowledges Jesus’ telling the Jews that the Great Commandments ARE “the first commandment of all” saying to Jesus that: “Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:28, 32:33).

These encounters serve to show us that the Jews ARE NOT blind to this Truth which, while perhaps NOT a part of the teaching to the people, IS nonetheless understood as an important part of the whole of the law. While Jesus says that “There is none other commandment greater than these“, these have had little impact upon the lives of the Jews and perhaps even less on the lives of the Christians who have taken the name of Christ as their banner. And this IS despite the way that Jesus shows us that the reality of salvation comes through these words. He says to the scribe “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:31, 34) and when we can add to this the words offered to the lawyer saying “this do, and thou shalt live“, we can then see the True Way to the Kingdom of God and to a Life that IS free from, delivered and rescued if you will, the “bondage of corruption” which IS Life in this world. It IS in this context that we should see the amplifying and clarifying words of the apostles and the essential link between agape and the law which Paul shows us in our selection from Romans saying:

“Owe no man any thing, but agapao one another: for he that agapao another hath fulfilled 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 agape thy neighbour as thyself. Agape worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore agape is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed”  (Romans 13:8-11).

This idea of Love, of agape, reaches back to the pronouncements of the law by Moses and IS given great strength by the Master who colors most ALL of His teaching in agape. While we can most assuredly say that in the Christian era the idea of agape IS NOT understood because of its translation into the common idea of Love, we can NOT so surely say this in regard to the Jewish response to this Great Truth. In the doctrinal practice of the Jews as we see this there IS a reliance upon the atoning quality of the sacrifice which NOT ONLY atones for the more carnal offenses against the law but also for men’s failure to live in accord with the words on Love of which Jesus tells us that “There is none other commandment greater than these“. The ritual sacrifices by and for the people assuaged ALL forms of sin in the minds of the Jews which IS the reality of where sin lives. And it IS this idea of atonement that IS carried forward and used to replace the Truth in the Christian era in much the same way as this was used by the Jews.

The difference being simply that the ‘sacrifice’ of Christ Jesus happens but one time which IS taken by the doctrines of men to then apply as the atonement for ALL men and for ALL time….men that believe according to their doctrines that IS. The doctrinal ideas on salvation and atonement come from several out of context ideas found in the epistles of the apostles; sayings such as this from the Apostle Peter who writes “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). These words, standing alone, point the doctrinal Christian to the idea that Christ died for our sins; in the apostle’s context however the message IS quite different as he IS comparing Christ’s suffering to the Way of the disciple who may be persecuted. Peter tells us “if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled….be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing” (1 Peter 3:14-17).

Can we see the point here? Can we see how that in context the apostle’s words take on distinctively different meaning? In the idea that Jesus died for ‘our’ sins doctrines have created a magical formula that somewhat mimics the Jews’ formula that was prescribed by Moses but which, in the teaching of the prophets, IS shown to be unimportant to the same God which the Jews thought they were appeasing. And Jesus repeats the prophet’s words to the Jews as a reminder of two things; first that they had forgotten the Truth of Love, of agape, and second that the role of animal sacrifices was essentially profitless. The Prophet Hosea tells the Jews the words of the Lord saying “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6) which the Master repeats as He shows the Jews that they have lost their way.

Jesus tells the Pharisees “go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” and then again He tells them “if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 9:13, 12:7). Like with the ideas of the Great Commandments, there ARE Jews who DO KNOW the reality of Hosea’s words and we can see this in the words of the scribe above who says that “to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices“. Here the scribe IS showing us the relationship between mercy and agape….that mercy IS the expression of agape which IS much more than the more common understanding of the word

While the idea of sacrifice IS brought down by the words of Hosea and Jesus, the Christian world still embraces the idea that the Master was the sacrifice for the sins of men, that His death on the cross IS atonement for the sins of the world. This IS contrary to Jesus’ words to the Pharisees, words which minimize the ideas of sacrifice, and contrary to the overall Truth that the Master teaches us. Jesus DID die on the cross and it was for the sins of men but the reality here IS that His death IS the result of the sins of men, the result of the refusal of men to see the greater Truth and to accept that He DID come among us as the Apostle Paul tells us saying that “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). It IS a sinful world, men trapped in their own sense of glamour and illusion, that puts the Master to death and it IS in this that we should see that the intended result IS that He “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God“.

And the example of His death and His resurrection should serve to tell men that “it is better….that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing” as men in this world and to show them that there IS NO finality in death but that the Spirit continues, and, for the man who has overcome his own bondage, continues with Power over ALL things carnal. But the doctrines of men DO NOT see this any better than the Jews; the doctrines of men DO NOT accept the Truth of His teaching as they relegate His words to a secondary place under the words of His apostles. In this ALL we should be able to see how that the atonement taught by men’s doctrines and the salvation provided in believing in this atonement ARE but a continuation of the Jews’ rituals of sacrifice streamlined for a new dispensation where the hearts of men ARE NOT into such ‘bloody’ rituals.

While there ARE several sayings found throughout the epistles of the apostles that lead to the doctrinal ideas of Jesus’ death being the atonement for the sins of the world, most ALL of these ARE configured by men, that IS that they ARE translated and interpreted into ideas that agree with the theology of the church fathers. Much of the theological thoughts on atonement come through the Book of Hebrews but without a keen understanding of what this writing by an unknown author Truly represents. Few see that the purpose of the writer and the deductions of theology DO NOT agree. The Book of Hebrews IS written to Jewish converts to Christianity, converts who yet have an underlying ‘Jewish’ sense of God and of Life; it IS written to help assuage the doubts that their Jewish doctrinal religion had instilled in them.

To the Jew’s leaders, the Pharisee, scribes, priests and others of religious authority, the Master could NOT be the Messiah simply because He DID NOT see their religion in the same way that they DID. He was to them an heretic but one with a great source of Power which, as history shows, DID NOT impress them but rather exasperated their anger and frustration at what Jesus DID and said. This IS the gospel narrative, the story around which Jesus’ Truths ARE presented. The choice presented to those Jews who sensed a glimmer of Truth in Jesus words and actions was to follow Him or to retreat into the teachings in which they were nurtured and indoctrinated and the writer of Hebrews sees his own role as convincing them the stay the course and to NOT retreat. To this end he uses many ideas that link the Master to the Old Testament and to their doctrinal view and this IS most clearly seen in the comparison of the Master with the High Priest and with that seemingly little KNOWN name of Melchizedek.

In the Old Testament Melchisedec, as this IS spelled in the New, IS shown to us ONLY one time and it IS this that the writer of Hebrews references nine times in much the same way as this name IS reference one time by David in the Psalms where we read “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalms 110:4). Yet today the True identity of Melchisedec IS unknown even to the Jews. Here one must consider that for the writer to use this name nine times in an effort to convince wavering Jews to stay the course of Christ, there must have been some knowledge regarding Melchisedec and the office of the High Priest at that time else the references ARE meaningless. Through the use of this name by the writer of Hebrews, Melchisedec has taken on a seemingly greater importance to Christians than to the Jews as the Christians portray, based in the words from Hebrews, Jesus as that High Priest in the Christian world. But Jesus DID NOT come among us as the High Priest; in fact He seemed appalled at what that office had become.

The writer of Hebrews however sees a point in showing the Christ as the High Priest and he seems to believe that this will encourage many to NOT retreat and the measure of his success IS rather unknown. Early Christian theologians however seized upon the way that Jesus IS portrayed in this book and after much time and perhaps animated discussion the book was included in the canon. Historically we read that: Because of its anonymity, it had some trouble being accepted as part of the Christian canon, being classed with the Antilegomena. Eventually it was accepted as scripture because of its sound theology, eloquent presentation, and other intrinsic factors. In antiquity, certain circles began to ascribe it to Paul in an attempt to provide the anonymous work an explicit apostolic pedigree. In the 4th century, Jerome and Augustine of Hippo supported Paul’s authorship: the Church largely agreed to include Hebrews as the fourteenth letter of Paul, and affirmed this authorship until the Reformation**.

In the idea that it was accepted as scripture because of its sound theology, eloquent presentation, and other intrinsic factors we should try to see the appeal of this writing to the overall Christian theology of the day and its contributions to the doctrines of atonement ARE abundantly clear in those doctrines. Such ideas as “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22) have become integral to the doctrinal teaching of Jesus as the sacrifice and this despite the contradictory ideas offered later regarding the ritual of sacrifice. It IS the writer’s view that the sacrifice of Jesus, “once for all“, which literally DOES NOT include the idea of “for all“, IS the better way to the Jew’s idea of “those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect” (Hebrews 10:10, 1).

We should note here that while he makes this point he also shows us that “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4) and then brings us back to the Master’s words above through the words of the psalmist saying “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required” (Psalms 40:8) which ARE recorded in Hebrews as “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure” (Hebrews 10:5-6). Can we see the relationship between these words and Jesus’ admonition to the Pharisees that they should “go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice“? 

While the doctrines of men portray the Master as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, the Master Himself DOES NOT portray Himself as such and if we could see that the entirety of Jesus’ teaching IS at-one-ment, perhaps we could have a greater vision of the Truth. Nowhere in the gospels DO we find Jesus conforming to the Jews doctrinal rituals of sacrifice nor even speaking of them save for His words to the Pharisees above; and while some may look to the Passover as Jesus’ acceptance of this ritual, there IS NO mention of it in any of the texts save for Mark’s Gospel.  Here one can presume that “the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover” (Mark 14:12) tells us that the disciples had a sacrificed lamb or we can see this as other translations render it which simply tells us that this was the day that the lambs were sacrificed which was typically on the eve of the Passover.  The Apostle John DOES tell us that the ‘last supper’ takes place the day before the Passover and that Jesus IS crucified on Passover.

Our greater point here IS that it IS through the Christian view of the Jews law and customs that their ideas that Jesus IS the paschal sacrifice ARE formulated and while this view IS NOT specifically supported by the writer of Hebrews whose concentration IS upon the priesthood and the way that Jesus can represent that to the Jews, there IS an allusion to it in Paul’s writings where we read that “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us“. The context of these words however IS NOT in regard to portraying Jesus as an atoning sacrifice as might be presumed from the doctrinal interpretation of the Jews tradition; the context IS found in Paul’s admonition that the follower of Christ NOT involve himself with those whose Life pursuits ARE strictly carnal. Paul’s example here IS in regard to his previous words on leaven and how that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:7, 6); here he shows that such involvement with carnal men can spread easily to oneself.

While the psalmist tells us that “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire” around 1000 BC, the use of sacrificial offerings continued and were greatly exacerbated by Solomon, the psalmist’s son of whom we read that “king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God” (2 Chronicles 7:4). More than 200 years later the Prophet Hosea spoke His words and, as the Master shows us, these also were NOT sufficient to change the ways of the Jews away from their ritual of sacrifice. Our point here IS that for more than 1000 years it IS shown us that the practice of animal sacrifice IS NOT the way of atonement except perhaps in the minds of men who believe that they have freed themselves of their burden of sin; it IS this that the Book of Hebrews shows us saying “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” and then adding that such sacrifices “can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11).

And while the writer IS offering us these Truths, he IS at the same time seemingly trying to show how that Jesus’ death DOES “take away sins“. Logically, against his own words that ARE contrary to atonement, his idea DOES NOT work but, in regard to the religious beliefs of the Jews it can and this by showing that their age old practice pales against the sacrifice of Christ. The writer goes on then to show us the greater Truth as he quotes the Prophet Jeremiah saying “the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more“; it IS these who accept this covenant that ARE sanctified through the laws that ARE in “their hearts” by which then become the living standard of one’s Life.

This idea however has been convoluted by the doctrines of men which see ALL who affirm and confess according to those doctrines as sanctified, that IS holy, based in the atoning quality of Jesus death. The writer goes on to say that “By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;* (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:20-24).

If we can see this “new and living way” as Jesus’ example and understand that it IS to His example that we should “draw near“, we can then understand the greater Truth which IS to “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” and NOT to merely rely upon His sacrifice for our salvation. NONE of these things will dissuade the doctrinal believer away from his believing in the doctrinal ideas of atonement and salvation; most ALL will NOT entertain the reality of the writer’s next words saying that “if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” because this IS contrary to most ALL doctrinal approaches to the Lord. But we should consider here the intent and try to see that this IS for the Jew who relied upon such “sacrifice for sins” to enable him to be free from them and to show him the better way which brings us back to Peter’s words saying “it is better….that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing“.

In the most complex Truth expressed through the gospels and the epistles we should see and understand that Jesus DOES die for our sins but NOT in the magical formula devised by the doctrines of men; He died because of our sins….because of the blindness of those in authority and their refusal to recognize the Truth while portraying themselves as KNOWING God. It IS in the blindness and the anger that plagued their world plus the amplifying effect of their own glamour that the Jews and the Romans put Jesus to death and this blindness and anger IS the sin for which He died. And while the benefit to mankind should be seen in the example of His Life and in His words of Truth and Love, doctrines have converted this to their various versions of atonement. In Jesus’ death we should see the ways of men, that their ways ARE ever contrary to the Truth of the law and of His words and we should understand that this has NOT changed.

The Christian world has from the beginning refused to see the same Truths that the Jews missed and in their own state of blindness, those who had taken authority have devised such doctrines as that allow them the same feeling of being free from their own DOINGS as the Jews had in their ritual sacrifice. The Truth IS that “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” according to the Jews traditions and the words of the psalmist, the prophets and the Master and hence we have the various doctrinal ideas of salvation and of the atonement provided, both forward and backward in the view of many, for the sins of men. Other doctrinal approaches include the substitution of the confessional for the lack of sacrifice and yet others some combination of these ideas but few there ARE that see the Truth that IS in Jesus words….words such as our trifecta which we repeat here again saying:

  • If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
  • Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
  • He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:21-24).

The machinations of men by which they create and apply their doctrinal views flourish in the world yet today, much as they DID in Jesus’ time; and we should try to see how that it IS Jesus’ words that saved many. While men may have been brought to Him by His miracles and His healing or by the Truth of His resurrection, those who stayed DID so because of their instant sense of Truth….their revelation and realization of the Presence of God and His Kingdom in their lives. This IS easily seen in the lives of His apostles, of His many other disciples, of Paul and of most ALL those whom Paul names as such in His epistles. And we should NOT forget such men as Luke and Mark and Philip and Stephen who IS killed….who died for the sins of the Jews that could NOT accept the Truth that he spoke.

Since these days we have His written words which, although they ARE colored by the writers and translated through the personalities of men of doctrine, ARE our instant guide to the Truth, the simple Truth of agape and of keeping His words as the way to True salvation. We can read of His miracles and His healing and the Truth of His resurrection and see in these a far greater Truth than doctrines reveal because they look past the Truth of His words and focus upon the more comforting concepts that ARE the doctrines of men. We close today with the Master’s words to those who He left 2000 years ago saying “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20). The Complete Jewish Bible renders this saying “Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age

We will continue with our thoughts in the next post.

Aspect of  God

Potency

Aspect of Man

In Relation to the Great Invocation

In relation to the Christ

GOD, The Father

Will or Power

Spirit or Life

Center where the Will of God IS KNOWN

Life

Son, The Christ

Love and Wisdom

Soul or Christ Within

Heart of God

Truth

Holy Spirit

Light or Activity

Life Within

Mind of God

Way

Quote of the Day:

Let the peace of God rule in your hearts

  • 1 Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1828 and 1913 from https://1828.mshaffer.com/
  • 4 Word Studies in the New Testament; Marvin R Vincent D.D. 2nd edition
  • 9a The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible on blueletterbible.org
  • 9 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on blueletterbible.org
  • ** Wikipedia contributors. “Epistle to the Hebrews.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 16 May. 2018.
 

 Those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.  

Voltaire, Writer and Philosopher

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