ON LOVE; PART MCCCL
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).
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.
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 with some comments on the state of the church today along with our view of some of the reasons for its being in a state where the doctrines of old, the doctrines of the church fathers and the reformers, remain largely untouched by the modern thinking man. Our view of this IS tied to the superstitious and barbarous times in which both lived and while the times of the reformers was less so, their reliance upon their emotional response to Life prevented real change. We should note here that the primary change in the Reformation was in the view that the rites and the rituals of the Catholic and Orthodox church DID NOT meet the requirements of the New Testament’s picture of the man who chose God. While parts of the reformed church retained certain rites and rituals in some modified form and kept the idea of the priest, others resolved to a different way and both have resulted in the multiplicity of denominations and sects that we see today. It IS NOT our purpose to trace the effects of the Reformation other than to note that it was an emotional response and that the resulting theologies were NO closer to the Truth than was the church that they presumably reformed. We should try to see here the reality of the emotional response to Life that was the way of the past, that this response was NOT as the idea of emotions IS generally understood. The emotional response of men in the early church and in the Reformation was based in the lack of critical thinking regarding the whole subject of religion and it IS by this that we should see their response as emotional….that it was based upon what they felt in the absence of such critical thinking. It IS this that leads to the ideas of devotion rather than obedience and the failure to see that it IS the results of obedience to the spiritual Truths presented by the Master that lead men to spiritual reality. Further, there IS a distinct reliance upon the rites and rituals of Judaism, not the rote ideas but the way that the Truth of God was understood by the Jews through their scriptures. While Jesus tried to show us that the Godhead was a Oneness that encompassed ALL men, He perforce needed to DO so with ideas that could be understood without critical thinking. Jesus left us with many questions regarding what He meant in His many sayings but, at the same time He left us with some rather clear rules to which we should be obedient; most of these ARE in regard to agape which IS the central point of His religion and Life itself. We should try to see here that while many of the Master’s words seemed parabolic and difficult to understand, the KEY to their understanding, the very KEY to discipleship, was in those words that gave us the very clear rules of Life. Rules that have been ignored for 2000 years as the church remains stuck in its past pronouncements of doctrine from which they still CAN NOT escape. Add to this the church’s reliance, mostly from the Reformation onward, upon the words of the Apostle Paul as a substitute for the Truth of the Master’s words and we have the state of the church today.
Millions upon millions ARE taught, indoctrinated into if you will, about the return of the Christ which many interpret as Jesus own return as a man “coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory“. We should note that in such verses as this the Master’s words ARE NOT offered from a personal perspective but rather as that it IS “the Son of man” (Matthew 24:30) that IS so coming. Much has been offered by the church over the centuries regarding Jesus appellation of Himself as the “Son of Man” but most ALL of this IS doctrinal supposition; we DO NOT really KNOW His intent in His use of this ‘title’ and if, in this instance, He IS referring to Himself. The idea of the “Son of Man” IS also found in the Old Testament and, except for its use in the prophecies of Ezekiel where its usage IS the Lord’s reference to the prophet himself, it IS used to show a human or perhaps humanity. The use of the idea of the “Son of Man” as it IS found in the Psalms IS a theological subject that adds yet more controversy to the idea; in the Psalms we read such ideas as “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet” (Psalms 8:4-6). While the writer’s intent here IS uncertain the context leads us to see humanity in its role in the Earth but apart from the vanity into which he IS cast. For us the idea here leans toward the man who IS Repented, Transformed and Redeemed and NOT the man yet caught up in his own “bondage of corruption“. Using this idea or any that may be similar can cast a different Light on the Master’s use of this idea in His saying above where we should understand the idea of “coming in the clouds of heaven” in the same way that we understand “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64). Here we should try to understand that while “the right hand of power” IS doctrinally understood in the same way as “the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2), there IS NO real throne nor a God sitting upon it as IS imagined by far too many. It IS this view of both the Father and the Son that has led to so much delusion in the church and kept men trapped in the ancient Jew’s vision of the Lord. Perhaps if we could see the advent or, better, the “manifestation of the sons of God” as Paul shows us in our selection, as that which the entire creation awaits, we could better understand Jesus’ idea regarding the idea of “coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory“. The point here IS that heaven IS NOT in the clouds according to the Christian ideas of it and this as surely as there IS NO throne. If we can see the idea here as that “the son of man“, the Repented, Transformed and Redeemed Soul expressing Truth and Love through his Life in this Earth, IS seen as somehow coming out of heaven, we can perhaps glimpse the realities that the Master leaves us in His parabolic tone. We should understand here that while so much of Jesus words ARE clear and plain, it IS in accepting these that we have the KEY to the meaning of the parabolic ideas which He tell us ARE reserved for the the True disciple. This He tells us clearly in saying to them that “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables” and we should try to see that the True disciple IS also clearly defined by the Master. As we begin to see and understand that the source of ALL revelation IS the Soul, the unction by which “ye know all things“, through a focus upon the things of God, a focus that IS inherent in our Repentance and Transformation and completed in our Redemption, we can then better understand the failure of the church which teaches and believes that they can be His disciple without His clearly defined parameters. As Paul tells us that it IS “the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God” and that he too, as a disciple of the Lord, IS also waiting, we should be able to see a deeper meaning to his saying that “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“. We should be able to see that this IS of utmost importance in the Life of the man focused upon the things of God. And Paul defines that man for us in our selection which we repeat saying:
“they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in
hope, Becauseexpectation that the creature itself also shall . For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 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” (Romans 8:5-23).
It IS unfortunate that from the beginning the Christian world applied ALL the benefits, ALL the rewards if you will, to itself without ever acknowledging that they have NOT paid the price as they rely solely upon their developed doctrinal views, views that emanated from the minds of men. If we look ONLY at the idea that a man must “mortify the deeds of the body” so that he “shall live” we can quite clearly discern the apostle’s meaning. But this IS NOT so in a major part of the church where men believe that they have that Life and ‘salvation‘ without even considering the meaning of Paul’s words. The idea of Life here IS NOT the Life of the body; it IS the body nature that one IS killing in mortifying it. We should note that the idea of mortify from the Greek thanatoo IS stronger in biblical terms toward the idea of killing than IS the secular understanding of the word. Also, the idea of Life here IS in the context of Jesus’ words such as His saying that “whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). It IS here we should see the dichotomy between the carnal Life and the spiritual Life and the most general idea of the plight of men. Most ALL seek to keep their carnal Life, their Life as a man in this world as culture and society have defined it, and we should try to see that it IS against this that our spiritual Life stands. This IS the point that Paul makes as well as he says in our selection that “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be“. The doctrinal thinker believes that by his doctrines he IS NO longer operating in “the carnal mind” and this despite the fact that he continues to live according to the culture and the society, according to their norms where most ALL that IS done IS for the ‘pleasures’ of the self….physical, emotional and egoic. Jesus tells us that as we seek to keep this carnal Life we lose our spiritual Life and this IS the trade-off that IS found in the reality of Repentance. In True Repentance we DO ‘trade’ our carnal sense of Life for a spiritual one as we move our focus off of the carnal things of the self and the world and onto the things of God where we ARE NO longer at “enmity against God“. It is this aspect of the Truth that the church has quietly railed against from the beginning as they DID NOT see nor understand the True message that the Master brought to us 2000 years ago. Most ALL have failed to see that the KEY to spiritual reality lies in His words, in His gospel of Truth and Love; most ALL Christians have traded His gospel for their doctrinal ideas that have become their gospel; they have traded the Great Commandments for their doctrinal ideas of confession and affirmation based in those few words, misapplied, misunderstood and out of context words, from Paul’s Epistle. The Apostle Mark gives us Jesus words a bit differently saying “whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35); here the idea of His gospel IS put on par with the idea of Himself. We should understand here that Paul’s words from our selection, indeed most ALL of his words, ARE based in the Gospel of Jesus; Paul’s words in our selection point us to the very same goal as the Master’s words which clearly spell out for us the Way through keeping His words. This Way IS the subject of our trifecta which we repeat 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).
When we can equate the idea of the rendered word gospel with ALL of Jesus’ words, we can then perhaps begin to see that the deeper idea of euangelion IS perhaps Thayer’s last idea on the word. He tells us that the gospel IS: the narrative of the sayings, deeds, and death of Jesus Christ 9 and while this IS a revisionist idea based in history, it offers us a better view than such ideas as good news, glad tidings 9 or a good message 9a. From Jesus’ first pronouncement of the idea in Mark’s Gospel where we read His words saying to the Jews “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15), the idea IS that men should KNOW the basis of Truth that IS in the law and which will continue in the Master’s expanded teaching on the law. Matthew tells us twice that the Master IS “preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23, 9:25) and here we should be able to glimpse the greater meaning of the idea. It IS this same gospel that should have carried forward into the Christian era; this IS His command which, when we combine it with the way that this IS expressed by the apostles, shows us the same greater reality. Mark gives us Jesus’ words as “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) while Matthew offers this same idea saying that His disciples should go and be “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). These final words from these gospels ARE what has become the Christian’s Great Commission and in the combination of these we should easily see that the idea of the gospel extends to “all things whatsoever I have commanded you“. But the church has ignored this now for 2000 years as they have substituted their own doctrines in place of the Truth of Jesus’ words while showing their various illogical reasoning for DOING so. While the early church may have begun in Peter’s and Paul’s writings and the less used writings of John and James, they quickly diverted to their own views which ARE ofttimes the product of negotiations and compromise. It IS this sense of compromise that brings us to today, it IS this sense of compromise that has diluted the ‘hard’ Truth that men should keep His words, His gospel if you will, into a series of doctrinal views that allow men to be men and to live their lives in this world while ‘believing‘ that they ARE ‘saved‘. This should remind us of the Jews in Jesus’ day as they lived by their mitzvah through the rote ideas of sacrifice, sabbath days, circumcision and other rites and rituals, observance of holy days and times and, of course, their dietary laws. No True credence was given to those things that the Master shows them were the important parts of the law and which were among the religious changes sought by the prophets. Jesus shows them their failure saying such things as “go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13); “if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7). Add to this from His list of woes His saying, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23). And, as we have noted, the prophets never railed at the ways of the Jews in regard to the ancillary rules and regulations imposed by Moses, they railed ONLY against the Jews seemingly continual defiance of the most basic idea of the first Commandment regarding the relationship between a man and his God. The message then was, as it IS yet today, focus; focus upon the things of God over the things of man and it IS in this failure of the Jews that we find the failure of the Christian. We find as well the words of the apostles as they NOT ONLY amplify and clarify the words of the Master but take on the role of the prophets as they try to direct men toward the Truth. This Truth IS Repentance and Transformation and it IS intended, as it has always been intended, to be a Life pursuit and NOT a part time exercise aimed at some illusive and nebulous idea of ‘salvation‘.
In the Apostle Paul’s many words the church has found their refuge against the ‘hard’ choices which we should understand ARE NOT so ‘hard’ as John tells us saying “this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). It IS through the minds of men, carnal minds to be sure, that the self-appointed authorities of the church have dissected Paul’s many words into snippets that can support their doctrinal views of Truth and have ‘sold’ them to the masses that have ever been eager to be led. We should understand here that this IS NOT a accusation of evil on the part of such men but ONLY the effect of the vanity into which ALL ARE born and which the man who Truly desires God must escape. It IS the vanity, the “bondage of corruption, that we must free ourselves from and we should understand that the Path to accomplishing this lies ONLY in the right understanding of agape and in striving diligently to keep His words. This IS our Life’s outline of spiritual Truth. It IS in this vanity that the rivalries of the One Christian church have blossomed as men came to disagree with the authoritative voices of doctrinal church. Many then formed yet other doctrinal views and churches which today number in the many thousands of denominations and sects, each with their own ‘special’ twist on the One Truth. The level of these disagreements has caused outward public displays of antagonistic words and ideas that promote one’s own views while diminishing those of other parts of the church sometimes calling the teaching of others ‘a lie of the devil’. The most basic idea keeping the larger church from the Truth IS found in the same analysis of scripture by the carnal minds of men, an analysis that protects men from the ‘hard’ choices in favor of the ease of doctrinal assertions of ‘salvation’ through the atoning quality of the Master’s Life and death. While this IS at odds with the words of the Master and His clear instructions, these same carnal minds have found ‘safe harbor’ in the idea that Jesus’ words were intended for the Jews and Paul’s words establish a ‘new’ dispensation of grace. Here one should ask: IS it ONLY Paul’s words that ARE important? ARE the words of the other apostles of equal importance? And, how one can Truly make this leap of ‘faith‘ based ONLY in the thoughts and the desires of men who seek ONLY to find the easier way to some level of comfort regarding their own future….especially their future after their death in this world?
The Truth has always been the same; from the beginning the covenant between God and man was that men should keep His words. This can be seen in the way that God speaks these ideas through His Earthly representatives, Moses, the prophets and certain of the kings, and, of course Jesus and His apostles, and this can be seen in the neo-Christian ideas of one’s communing with his own Soul. It IS this latter that IS the reality of most ALL world religions that DO NOT rely upon a deity. In their speaking to man by the representatives of the Lord we should try to see how that in each era the words ARE according to the understanding of men in that day. This however IS NOT the case when one communes with his own Soul, his unction by which “ye know all things“. This sense of communing DOES NOT rely upon the understanding by the carnal mind and, in the end, IS the ONLY way that men DO receive revelation. We speak here about True revelation which ideas must be tested against the carnal minds of men, their personalities, that can interpret most any thought as a revelation. There IS of course a measure by which we can test and we can distill this into the idea that if a thought, deemed inspired or otherwise, IS a revelation from the Lord through one’s own Soul, then it must be selfless….there should be NO ideas of benefit or reward of any kind, physical, mental or emotional. These human aspects ARE functions of the integrated personality and should be seen as ego based which IS a peril that so few can see. In our selection Paul shows us that “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” but this saying IS misplaced by most ALL doctrinal thinkers who see themselves as “spiritually minded” based upon their doctrinal beliefs. Most DO NOT understand that to be “led by the Spirit of God” IS the result of True Repentance and our ongoing Transformation by which we leave off of our carnal thoughts of self, of family, of church, lands, possessions, etc. In Transformation we seek to become His True disciples according to the Master’s words in our trifecta: that we “continue in my word“. We should also see here the Master’s defining idea for this discipleship which tell us clearly that “whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Can we see the point of being “led by the Spirit of God“? Can we see that such ARE “are the sons of God” and that it IS these who strive toward the Truth, these that ARE willingly Transforming, that can achieve “the Spirit of adoption” and come to understand the significance of the Chaldean word Abba which IS untranslated in our bibles. While the dictionaries and lexicons interpret the idea of Abba as Father saying that Paul and Mark merely repeat the idea of Father after its use, we should try to see a deeper meaning a hint of which can be found in Thayer’s saying that: Whenever it occurs in the N. T. it has the Greek interpretation subjoined to it; this is apparently to be explained by the fact that the Chaldee אַבָּא, through frequent use in prayer, gradually acquired the nature of a most sacred proper name, to which the Greek-speaking Jews added the appellative from their own tongue 9. If we can build upon the singular idea that Abba IS the nature of a most sacred proper name, we can then perhaps better understand the intent.
While Paul’s words ARE from the perspective of the “carnal mind“, John offers us a similar understanding using the idea of the world. The apostle tells us “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17). The ideas of lust and pride here take us to the nature of the carnal personality, the “carnal mind” as John shows us the same sense of enmity which IS essentially between the carnal and the spiritual and both Paul and John draw out for us the necessary dichotomy between these spheres. From such words as these we should be able to see that any things, any thoughts or emotions, that ARE of the self ARE NOT of God as we equate carnal and self against spiritual and God. Going further we should see the Apostle James’ words which, while on a broader scale, show the same enmity and dichotomy. James tells us “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). While these words from Paul, John and James may ONLY imply the separation that defines True revelation, an implication that IS either ignored or completely misunderstood, James also give us a ready guide to KNOWING what IS from the Lord and what IS NOT. This we find in his words on Wisdom and here we should understand that what IS from the Soul, from the unction by which “ye know all things“, IS that Wisdom and what IS NOT according to the totality of the defining ideas he provides IS NOT. James tells us:
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual,f devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusiong and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:13:17).
We have discussed these ideas several times over the course of our blog posts and our thoughts can be found by searching for the Greek words that correspond with each of these rendered words. Our view from the beginning IS that the rendered words DO NOT lay out for us the apostle’s intent but rather the doctrinal ideas that have been applied. Our point here IS however that even using the rendered ideas as a guide, the nature of True revelation can be revealed by focusing upon the way that there IS NO sense of self inherent in any of the defining ideas for “the wisdom that is from above” which IS the reality of ALL revelation. The deeper ideas from the Greek words IS ever more revealing of the Truth of what comes from the Lord.
We will continue with our thoughts in the next post.
- 4 Word Studies in the New Testament; Marvin R Vincent D.D. 2nd edition
- 8 Bible commentaries on BibleStudyTools.com
- 9 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on blueletterbible.org
Those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.
Voltaire, Writer and Philosopher