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Saturday, 31 March 2018

Somewhere Up There...

Although outside time, in eternity past, upon the heavenly Throne sat Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How those three in one Godhead love each other! Absolutely flawless, and prior to the Crucifixion, it was and always have been utterly impossible for any brief interruption to mar this ongoing love relationship. How joyful each of these "persons" were, each putting the welfare of the other two above his own. Therefore it can be said that because of the eternal love relationship existing between the three, God is love, not just merely the source of love. 

The reality of this eternal Trinity is so massively different from Allah of the Islamic faith, or even the Jehovah of the Watchtower Society of Witnesses, both sources depicting their God as once existing alone in the Universe before any form of creation having taken place, and incapable of love until such objects of his love came into being. Perhaps this Unitarian form of God must have felt cold and lonely from time to time in universal space and in need of a companion. At last, Jehovah of the Watchtower creates a companion for company, the archangel Michael, who would one day incarnate to become the Witnesses version of Jesus Christ. Between these two - a big God and a little god - the rest of creation got underway, spanning thousands if not millions of years. This began with the creation of all the other angelic hosts before the physical creation of all heavenly bodies including the Earth. Finally the six "days" of creation, each of a thousand years apiece, began as described in the first chapter of Genesis.

Having associated with Jehovah's Witnesses during my earliest years as a Christian believer (and nearly becoming one of them), I was able to see the commitment they had for their faith. This includes going out in all weather conditions to knock on doors in their attempt to convert, despite their full expectations of a hostile reception and having the front door slammed shut at their faces. Books, only published by the Watchtower Society, were read and studied in a group discussion, normally at a home of a Witness. And their topic was always the same - a Unitarian God, his created son Christ Jesus who was inferior to his Father, his impalement on a wooden stake (therefore not crucified), their denial of a physical resurrection, and a very dubious probational salvation offered for those who endure to the end. All this with their insistence that all churches, along with all human governments with their federal and civic institutions, are of the Devil and will all be destroyed in the coming global Battle of Armageddon. Dare to leave the organisation and eternal death by annihilation is guaranteed. With such theology, this "Maybe Salvation" was the final straw needed to repudiate the Watchtower Society entirely.

Oh, what a difference this Unitarian God is to the truth and reality of the Trinity! From eternity past, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all equal in the divine Godhead, enjoyed a love lavished between each other. It is a truth well beyond human understanding. Because of his omniscience, "before the foundation of the world" or from eternity past, he already has the Lamb's Book of Life, with all the names of everyone who will be saved written within. Yet he also knew that there will be many, many more who will be born, live and die without ever knowing their Creator. The same with his angelic hosts. God was about to create them with the full knowledge that one of them will be filled with pride and rebel, with up to a third of the entire host rebelling with him. Because from eternity past he knew all along, for me it is all a mystery. A mystery I will never get round to solve, due to my own finitude.

But with awareness of this divine foreknowledge, I have a desire to think of the likelihood that a conversation like this had taken place within the Trinity before anything was made:

Father: You both know that soon after we had created the angelic host, one will lead a rebellion.

Holy Spirit: Yes we do know. But not until after our creation of mankind's first parents.

Father: By not having physical bodies, the fallen angels will be entirely outside of redemption, neither would they want to be redeemed anyway. But after mankind has fallen through the sin of just one man, due to their genome inherited from father and mother alike, the whole of humanity will still be within redemption.

Holy Spirit: This will mean that one of us must become one of them, to be born as one of them, to have the same human genome, to live and identify as one of them, to minister to them and finally to allow them to kill as a human sacrifice to atone for their sin. And then to rise again, physically.

Father: All of this is perfectly true. Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

Son: Here am I. Send me.

Father: Yes my beloved! Indeed, you may go. And a great joy will be set before you when you see multitudes without number redeemed, and you will be exalted above all things! Okay, let's begin with Creation, our host of angels first! And all three in the Godhead rejoiced exceedingly.

And yes, I can find a portion of Scripture which seems to back such a conversation, and I love the Authorised Version of Zechariah 2:6-11 because this is the only version that I know of which has God laughing: 

Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four wings of the heaven, saith the LORD.
Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.
For, behold, I will shake my hand upon them, and they will be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me.
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.
And many nations shall be joined to the LORD on that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD has sent me unto thee.
Zechariah 2:6-11 KJV, also Isaiah 6:8.

Here is the LORD of hosts sent by the LORD of hosts! Perhaps this is the greatest rebuke which could be given to the Watchtower Society. God sent by God. Imagine that. And therefore we have the Son crucified, buried, and resurrected, now ascended to heaven, only to return to deliver the house of Israel and establish his Kingdom in Jerusalem. Of course, Easter does not mean anything to them. To them, it's a pagan holiday with no bearing on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Really, after Adam and Eve had sinned, God was not obliged to make any move towards redemption. Instead, to satisfy infinite justice, every single person ever born must die and be eternally lost, separated from God forever. It is hard to imagine the likes of Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, along with all the prophets suffering eternally in Hell, along with the apostle Paul, all the other 1st Century disciples, together with us today - eternally separated from God.  But he made the first move towards redemption anyway because of his love and mercy. 

Oh how I am thankful for God's mercies! And that is what Easter is all about. Not about chocolate eggs, bunnies and decorated buns, but about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I guess that was the plan of God all along. To be glorified through redemption. For the whole creation to thunder praises to him for his undeserved mercy and grace, with not a single stroke of work done by anyone, other than by Jesus Christ himself, to earn this salvation. 

The idea that the Lamb's Book of life was composed "before the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8), makes ridiculous any ideas that a true Christian believer could lose his salvation and be lost again. Instead, I can see that the omniscience of God being the proper reason for believing in Eternal Security of the Believer. Once saved always saved. This is not arrogance or self assurance, this is the grace and the power of God, whose foreknowledge cannot be contradicted or able to undo.

But it still remains a mystery. All around me I see people who do not know the Lord. And this is a country which has the Christian Constitution, along with its Defender of the Faith and head of the Anglican Church, with the Archbishop of Canterbury being the top guy of the Christian faith in England. Yet the majority of the population does not know God. Indeed, this is indeed sad, and such observation has made any idea of a heavenly book sealed from before Creation rather unpalatable to believe in, to be labelled a Calvinist, to carry the idea that the reason why these people don't know the Lord is because their names are not in God's unalterable Book of Life, and therefore concluding that God has never called them. These are issues I have grappled with, and I'm still grappling with these issues at present.

Feeling sad for them gives the impression that I do love my fellow countrymen, even if I don't agree with their culture. The culture of social class division and favouritism, at the same time revelling in national pride and optimism through self effort whilst glorifying past imperialistic achievements. Much of all this based on Darwinism, with it's past (and sometimes present) Master Race mentality. Then the British bulldog spirit standing in the way between the average Brit and faith in Jesus Christ. Yet whilst I dwell on these spiritual barriers, I tend to forget that God is not obliged to save anyone. But he saves anyway, lavishing grace and mercy for his own sake.

Maybe that is where my way of thinking is awry. I'm basing my heart on my fellow man's benefit instead of God's glory. The whole purpose of salvation through unmerited grace and mercy is to bring glory to God throughout all creation, and particularly to the angelic host after the heavenly rebellion. Yet the question remains, which I once prayed desperately to God:
Why, O Lord, did you create us in the first place if all that awaits is eternal condemnation? 
Especially concerning Psalm 139, where the author specify how he was "knit together in the womb" by God, as with every pregnancy, only to be born to live a life without ever knowing God, then to suffer eternal separation. Nothing seems to make any sense. I couldn't help but feel a sense of cruelty within this whole shenanigan. Especially when I imagine with horror my nearest and dearest suffering forever in hell, a strong possibility had she been born in a non-Christian country.

However, there are three national holidays we observe here in the United Kingdom: Christmas, Easter and Whitsunday. Christmas is to do with the birth of Jesus, Easter to do with his death, burial and Resurrection, and Whitsunday is to do with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, although it is unlikely that many here in the UK knows what Whitsunday is supposed to be about. Three Christian festivals in a year, in my mind at least, cannot be mere consequential. This seems to tie in well with the original three Hebrew festivals specified in the Old Testament: Pesach (the Passover,) Shavuot (Pentecost, the feast of Weeks), and Sukkot (Tabernacles). Always in threes, which looks to be aligned with the three persons of the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Through these holidays, is God trying to tell us something?

Contrary to believing in strict Calvinism (chosen by God's sovereignty to be saved rather than by human choice, advocated by John Calvin, a 16th Century French theologian), Scripture does indicate human choice. For example, in Luke 24:47, the resurrected Jesus informs his remaining disciples that "repentance and remission of sins must be preached to all nations everywhere, starting at Jerusalem." Then in Acts 17:30, Paul instructs the population at Athens "that in the past God winked at ignorance, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent." Then there is the testimony of Peter, who writes, "but the Lord is long-suffering to us, not willing that anyone should perish, but all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Those three verses strongly indicate human choice. And to repent simply means a change of mind about Jesus Christ. 

Back in those days, Jesus was known to many. But the Jews wanted a political deliverer from the burden of the Romans. When he refused to deliver politically, he was seen as an impostor, possibly a madman. For the Jew to repent, he had to change his mind from believing him to be an impostor to believing in him as the risen Christ, God come in the flesh. I as a non-Jew had to change my mind from thinking Jesus as some remote teacher who lived long ago to being the Son of God who died and rose from the dead.

I'll end here with one of the most famous verse in the Bible, which reads:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16.

Wishing you a happy, God-blessed Easter.


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