Admittedly the goal of human life is an approach to realizing a likeness to God. In the Old Testament the focus seems to be on man’s compliance with divine commands (Ecc. 12:13) and covenant-keeping (Exo 19:5 and Gen 17:10). Examples of godliness have appeared that are not related to either commandments or covenant. The happiness that comes from being forgiven is a measure of godliness, just as the happiness of the peacemaker is a measure of godly status.
Commandment-keeping and covenant (such as circumcision) have not surfaced as reliable or effective means to achieve godliness, the first due to human brokenness and the latter due to its purely physical nature. A new standard must be available since the call to holiness is to be found on both Testaments especially in view of the claims of Christ to be the Way, Truth and Life and his provision of a way past the essential obstacle between man and God. With the atonement Christ proved that godliness could only be achieved through divine help. Godliness must therefore be redefined as possessing characteristics that belong to God and not merely as claiming to have responded to Him.
The Godly Individual
The term man of God is to be applied to all believers because of their adoption into God’s family. Such persons have qualities that separate them from unregenerate humans. They are first of all faithful. They are all flawed persons. They recognize that Christ as the template for human beings is in certain aspects separate from human beings. When they contemplate their path to God’s ideal they are aware of an infinite gap between Creator and creature.
How Much Like Christ?
Christ does not hold forth a family likeness other than identity since all notions of human performance can never approach Christ’s. Since compliance with covenant has changed and obedience to the Law is no longer the primary demand we turn to the two demands of the scriptures: be and do.
The call for a change of identity rests on a divine act. Unlike Israelite process of becoming God’s people through complete compliance with the law humans become godly by God’s will and graceful intervention. No-one can stand before God and claim to be His child on the basis of obedience to any set of regulations or instructions. On the contrary humans become children of God by means of faith alone.
We can never be God-from-God, saviour of the world, sinless sacrifice, and head of the church.
Do as I say and Do as I do
Since men cannot claim to have done all what has required from earliest times it is left only for us to find our likeness to God in (1) cherishing our identity as sons and (2) imitating the Son of God. Instead of an unreliazable set of commands two things bring us to genuine godliness: faith in the Son of God and loving as He loved us.
The Holy Spirit fully empowers us to do what Christ did: deeds of love, compassion, and power. Herein lies the most secure version of godliness. Performance of legal requirements is bound to be broken and incomplete at some point.
Dreams and visions have enlightened and comforted humans, and even charted the path for families, and one might say the entire human race. At the end of Stephen’s cutting defence in his case before the Sanhedrin, he had a vision which consoled him, but his defence had unvelied a pattern of behaviour which I would like to call “kill the dreamer”.
Killing the dreamer was the consistent response of a stiffnecked and resistant people to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Dreams and visions can characterize the deeper levels of divine instruction which often come into conflict with the written instructions, hence the resistance of those who thought that the Law was the last word in divine intervention. Christians are called to dream: dream against the grain, swim upstream and in the face of contradiction and hopelessness. Stephen was a dreamer. He was appointed to take care of daily distribution of life’s necessities but he was granted to follow his master in accurate tteaching of the truth and dying for the cause.
Have you stopped dreaming?
On June 20, 2016 I wrote an essay entitled The Triumph of Buffoonery in which I mused on the candidacy of Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States of America. I also hoped that the Republican Party would soon take a principled stand against the uninformed magnate. This week, 7 weeks later, reports abound that a serious attempts are afoot to (my words) “heave him over the side and thank him for saying the kinds of things they have wanted to say for decades but could not for fear of offending an increasingly sensitive and polarized population and for fear of being exposed as the party with a hateful agenda”.
Pardon the violence, but even prophets of God get thrown overboard. This writer lays no claim to the prophetic mantle but does not mind being charged with believing that there enough decent and conscientious politicians and party members in the Republican party who know that the Trumphoon is a shallow megaphone who cannot see why his style and nobility are highly questionable and deeply offensive. Most of us will admit that at least a crude thought comes to mind from time to time, but this abominable wannabe does not have a single bone of contrition, humility, or common nobility.
The Trumphoon is going to crash because he thinks the United States is a business. He is going to crash because he thinks that tweets and slogans are the stuff of political leadership. The Trumphoon is going to crash because he has maligned everyone, including his party, his “team”, and his president. Did anyone ever talk to him about speaking evil of leaders?
Let’s recall that his candidacy was received as a joke, a stunt by a reality TV personality. It was seen as unrealistic and destined to fail. Hate speech and murderous intent do not inspire informed people. The Trumphoon’s tasteless humour, unfounded statistics, and crude language with rebuke by the GOP leadership show the depth of the political poverty Americans have inherited.
Let’s watch the next 3 weeks for a meteor to come crashing down on New York city and GOP Central causing damage that will take the GOP decades to repair.
It is now 2 years – August 2018 – and the 45th president has been exposed in court as a criminal. His personal lawyer and fixer pled guilty to financial campaign violatiobs at the then candidate’s direction.
I make these observations knowing full well that many respected leaders in the Christian community hold views that are contrary to Messianic teaching. I venture to share the observations because the risk is too great if I didn’t. To a man, the globally renown evangelists, popular and respected apologists, telepreachers and seminary professors, confidently proclaim that the dead are not dead. They are either competent charlatans or (like the apostle Peter) believers whose interests do not include divine things (Matthew 16:21-23).
The eternal state of being is uniquely God’s. Man has both nonexistence and being. Just as it was an affront to speak of the Son of God as having a beginning at one point so now it is egregious to talk about man having absolute being. Absolute perfection gives life to the dead. It is highly irregular for life and death to have the same face. The primary characteristics of being are defined as location, time, and essence. The difference between God and man in these aspects of being settles every notion of anthropology. A Christ-centred theology best explains what life and death are under all circumstances.
We have discovered a perfect explanation of religious proclamation that makes shipwreck of the apostolic traditions. Instead of holding the New Testament’s precision as the anchor the practice of Messianic interpretation has been subjected to speculation and outright denial of Christ’s lordship.
The vast majority of Evangelical heavyweights will with total conviction tell us the following:
- The departed saints are in heaven.
- The dead are in hell facing eternal torments
The Saviour himself tells us that:
- All who are in their graves will come forth when he utters his voice
We learn from this Messianic saying that:
- graves house both the lost and the saved
- They come forth and face respectively to the resurrection of life and the resurrection of damnation.
The immediate union with Christ is part of triumphal Christianity, equal to the obsession with miracles and power manifestations. While it is true that the Cross brings on unspeakable victories and triumph to the life of the believer there is no warrant for claiming that the dead are not dead.
The die and immediately go to heaven doctrine is pernicious and Satanic and it bears the stamp of many quasi-luminaries among whom we find Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge and 99% of the writers of our times who call themselves Evangelicals.
Let the reader beware! Tin and brass can be made to look like gold. The belief that people die and immediately go to heaven or hell is cardinal among believers worldwide. We do well to steer clear of this kind of absent-mindedness and the waste of our hard-earned cash.
He that has an ear must listen to what the Holy Spirit says to the churches. Who knows the resurrection better than Christ? Let us believe him when he says, Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, (28) And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (29) John 5
Who would have thought that a public figure in modern politics in the 21st. century could advocate a ban on a religious group and get away with repeating it? Since starting to write this article at the beginning of the United States Election campaign I have learned that when Donald Trump opens his mouth it is either a cliché or mind-numbing, hateful nonsense that spills out. Of course there are many that love him, like what he says, but I do not have to listen to him unlike the increasing number of people who have not distanced themselves from his voice. When that love fades to accountability they too will likely face the mind-numbing and hateful nonsense. The GOP has not yet officially called the Trumphoon (trumpcard buffoon) on the targeting of Muslims or the greatness of America.
It will not be long before the Republicans heave him over the side and thank him for saying the kinds of things they have wanted to say for decades but could not for fear of offending an increasingly sensitive and polarized population and for fear of being exposed as the party with a hateful agenda. If an outsider like Trumphoon can speak the truth about immigration and crime using crude terms and use damaging stereotypes then the GOP has the campaign shenanigans made. Trumphoon is going to jail if he keeps up the hate speech! When someone as unhinged as the Trumphoon can win the White House then Americans will have scraped a hole in the bottom of the barrel.
How is it that the psychologists have not designed a test for racism? Or how can the news outlets not have a scale for measuring inflammatory nonsense? It’s an election, they say, meaning “anything goes”. Conscientious theologians have designed tests for legalism, racism, literacy, idolatry, capitalism, and Pharisaism. The level of nincompoopery and ignorance being spewed out by the trumphoon if found among theologians finds shelter only in backroom churches.
Will American politicians find the courage to strain out buffoonery? Unlikely. They have so perverted their way – to the extent that the term politician has become abhorrent – they obviously need to wake the founding fathers. No tycoon, governor, senator, mayor, or congressman can claim to have particular insight. The Trumphoon alone has a brain. America needs a make-over and everyone who imagines that the declaration of independence and the Constitution are perfect documents is a deluded idolater. Just watch what happens when informed people evaluate the Buffoon’s assumed success and the documented greatness of America. The leaders who are not intoxicated by either buffoonery or imaginary business acumen must call out the supreme buffoon.
Are we not seeing the same kind of meltdown that has accompanied the eclipsing of ancient Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome? These ancient world-ruling empires crashed after asserting themselves as sovereign and omnipotent. As we come to the modern era we find the likes of Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Great Britain and the United States of America populating the empire-scape. All of them established great reach of their power across the globe and sometimes quietly returned to relative obscurity. The call now is for the United States and its allies to take the lead and maintain civil society in its greater forms. As noble as this initiative is so is its founding principle ignoble, and therefore destined to fail. Are not our modern nations and alliances already at the top of their game?
Which is where we run into the trumphoon. He wants to make America “great again”. America was never great! Great Britain was! So the mighty buffoon needs to speak more clearly on what America’s greatness entails. Let him just try. His lead in the polls cannot be separated from the Republican base.
Who can those Trumphoon fans be? Can he stretch the truth to deny that his audiences are Republicans just as he denies being a politician? His lead in the polls also tells us about the lust for power among Americans who strive to become leaders.
Community among humans seems to have always had, more or less, a dependence on the sage, the shaman, the expert the lawyer, the ruler, the hero, the warrior and the monarch. The king is a tycoon because he owns everything and whatever we can claim ownership of is taxable by the king. Pluralism allows us to choose any of these leader types as our anchor. Many tycoons have little in their life-ledger besides cash and business fortune. If he is really rich he is also really close to losing a chance of ever being a kingdom child: either greed or apathy hounds him, and from the Trumphoon’s repeated slurs and thin skin, it is quite obvious that he is a hateful and abominable person.
I’d rather have a sage, a shaman, an expert, a lawyer, a business major, a hero, or a warrior. Times have not changed much because people still despise a tycoon. Rich people may have the admiration and jealousy of millions but when the chips are counted rich individuals get the shaft because the loyalty of a rich person is likely to be vested in their riches and not in a principle or supreme Being.
This tycoon’s foray into politics signals one more – maybe the last – attempt by one more “professional” person to make sweeping claims about personal efficiency. George Bush and Sarah Palin are examples of persons with governor experience but what a disappointment both have been!
If Muslims can be deemed offensive and be banned from entering the United States what other group may find itself facing a ban or some other sanction? What is the trumphoon saying about Muslims born and raised in the United States? Respect for the law is paramount in the USA so somebody had better soon shake the trumphoon from his stupor and let the American people conduct their election without inflammatory, hateful, and crude terminology. If not the temple comes down with a crash and American greatness will almost instantly be visible across the globe as oppression, tyranny, prostitution, torture, and with the exception of (to quote an American president) a few “points of light” sheer buffoonery. Finally we will see the American heart rejoicing that they have a trump card, one that is as wild as wild cards come, so wide as to close the door on America’s population and community-building matrices. Sheer buffoonery has reached high places and defies evaluation.
If we needed evidence of the estrangement of Christianity from its roots we need look no further than the seminal intervention and memorial of both Judaism and the Way; the Passover. There is no need to probe the Law vs Grace red herring, the moral abyss invented by deluded perfectionists, or the hypocrisy of commandment-keepers. We are not expecting a resurgence of Judaism, nor do we feel obliged to give up Messianic revelation because there are roots reaching back to Israelite history. Every so often the Passover falls on the day Christians have christened as Good Friday and this year the setting of Good Friday a month away from Passover is a stark exposure of Christian negligence and avoidance of the public truth, namely that Christ died as the primary act in salvation history and the Gospel. The season is still being called Easter and passed off as commemorative of Yeshua’s resurrection. Despite the fact that there is no biblical call for celebrating the Lord’s resurrection, we omit the reason for the season, the sacrifice of the Lamb, and the vast majority of Christians stumbles on in the dark about Christ our Paschal Lamb.
The prevalence of “Easter” as a name for the seminal event in Christ’s saving mission is the result of a poor translation of a single word in the 17th century King James version, and the negligence of succeeding generations. Instead of translating pascha as Passover, because the Greek term comes from the Hebrew pesach, they gave us “Easter” in hopes of connecting the Sacred festival with the secular festival that comes around at the same time of year. Easter is really a pagan practice that is connected with early Babylonian rituals which appear also in the Old Testament in Canaanite practices.
Another pervasive example of the King James translators going astray is their destruction of personal names. J and Z replace Y and TS. Yeshua becomes Jesus, Tsiyyon becomes Zion. This is a symptom of cultural insensitivity and scholarly negligence.
What has happened since Paul said “Christ our Passover [Paschal Lamb] is sacrificed for us” and today when we see Passover, the 14th of Nissan, and Good Friday are separated by a month? We have mistaken the immutable with irrelevance. Since Christ died Passover is no longer a Jewish feast. The Lamb of God is a universal provision. Passover, the day on which our Lord died cannot possibly be on any day beside14th Nisan.
Our estrangement from the recognized foundations of Messianic Revelation has its roots in xenophobia, political allegiances, and religious animosity. Since Abraham is our avowed common ancestor we have some explaining to do about our drifting apart into our clans (religions and denominations). We seem to have ourselves resisted the developments that have defined both Jewish and Christian history. The transitions from bondage to liberty, from pilgrimage to inheritance, the merging of priesthood and monarchy are all accompanied by covenants and pronounced shifts in divine revelation that require our repentance. Resistance to change can become a millstone around one’s neck.
In this regard it is helpful to note that a change of mind was what the Lord proclaimed as necessary if people wanted access to the kingdom of God. The record shows that Moses, Solomon, or Jeremiah would be shocked to see how their contributions have spiraled out of shape. Peter, Timothy, or 4th century church father would be likewise shocked to see how the glorious Way has been abandoned.
The Passover should remain grounded in the understanding that some things do not change. Passover is essentially a sacrificial monument in which blood is spilled as a means of liberation and identity. When God ordered the death of the firstborn in Egypt He made provision so that Israelites would not suffer loss. The slaughtered lamb provided the cover a satisfactory substitute for the firstborn in every Israelite home. It is to accomplish this very thing that Christ is Paschal Lamb.
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: (7) Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (8). 1 Corinthians 5:7-8
Try as we might, we cannot undo the fact that there is no resurrection song or litany that has the effect of significance as do the songs of the Cross. There is no resurrection celebration in the Lord’s table. Easter Sunday does not compare to Passover. Christ is Saviour by means of death, not by rising from the dead, so let’s put first things first. This year, let’s face the holiday with a new sobriety, laying aside the shallow and commercial intoxication of a feel-good Sunday and put our thoughts and trust in Christ our Paschal Lamb.
The Prince of Peace gives peace that is not defined by circumstances. If one is invited to walk on water one needs eyes on the destination and inviter, not on the waves.
We often find ourselves in doubt about our status: concerned about work, play, health, finances, and relationships. If anxiety accompanies our reflections then we are missing an important part of our heritage.
Whatever is on your front burner ought to be under God’s care. Peter encourages us to cast all our cares on Yeshua and as we do we will find that He is caring for us.
Since the heavenly Father has given us peace we need not concentrate on the appearance of chaos. Like the anointing we have from God our peace does not come and go. On a dark day the sun is still present, so is divine peace when turmoil and chaos surrounds us.
The peace that God gives is permanent and irrevocable, surpasses our observation and is royal. Embrace it and treasure it without doubting.