SanctiFusion

Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

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May the Divorced Remarry?

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divorce trauma3
This question has plagued people now for centuries. The consensus in many “Bible-believing churches (should this be redundant?)” is that Jesus said it was an absolute no-no because God has decreed that every marriage is forever, end of discussion. But is this the case?

Before going farther, there is no intent here to encourage anyone to take the marriage vows any less seriously. “Til death do us part” still means the same thing and, as many of us know, divorce can be even worse than death for those so-affected. If you are married, then unless your life is in real danger, that is, if at all possible, make it work, please! Many go running out that “back door” only to find themselves slammed through the brick wall on the other side of the doorway.

If Jesus said that divorce is a sin, and that those divorced must stay single, then we have an interpretation problem. In the Sermon on the Mount He had said that He would not be changing “one jot or one tittle” of the Law of Moses, but to fulfill it. As a body, it is “fulfilled” when every figure and prediction has come to pass. At present count, the 2/3 which covers the Second Coming and the Kingdom Age is yet to happen. The Law, then, including the parts in which God gave the statutes for divorce as well as the parts for honoring parents, respecting others’ property, and loving God with our all, are still in effect.

“Giving divorce?” Yes, before the Giving of the Law divorce did not exist. A man had all rights in the marriage, including to expect a deserted wife to wait for him indefinitely in case he wanted to come back in a few years and sell her and her children on the auction block. God, through Moses, changed this for His people. “For the hardness of your hearts it was given” Jesus said. To protect the injured party from continued neglect, abuse, or infidelity the Law allowed a clean break, with a certificate to show that person was free to remarry or, as Moses wrote it, “free to go where she will.” Marriage, even remarriage, was the norm because of God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” and the male-driven economy which made it nigh-to-impossible for a woman to strike out on her own. This would have been the exception, not the rule.

If we but recognise that Jesus is, Himself, the Word, the Logos, of God, then we see that for Him to change course with any detail of the Law would be for Him to contradict Himself as the Law-Giver. It was not His purpose to outlaw divorce, or any other detail of the Law. As much as it can hurt, and yes it can be about like an amputation, if the amputation takes years to complete and the anesthetic is in short supply. But like an amputation it is not done for cosmetic purposes unless one is either incredibly dense or psychotic, but to save a life. In like manner, for the Church to marginalise the divorced would be like a handicapped parking spot being open for all but amputees.

Is this the whole story? Not by a long shot. There is more- We have yet to touch on Jesus actual words on the subject, or the implications in the Church for leadership, or the charge given to modern pastors and leaders for dealing with the situation as it stands. But this is a good spot to stop for questions. What’s yours?

Written by Robert Easter

Wednesday, 9 September, 2009 at 20:21

The End of America?

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Wiley+Miller+Judgment+DayOkay, so you’re a Christian. Odds are if you’re reading this you’re an American, where 85% claim to be “saved.” There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of agreement on what we’re supposed to be saved from, or saved for, how we came to be saved, or why. But we’re saved. You can bet on it.

So a Christian society endorses pornography, abortion, drunkenness, adultery, divorce-for-convenience, euthanasia, and all kinds of sexual immorality in degrees unparalleled since the fall of Rome, and brags about its “liberty.” It even sits idly by as its leaders enact a new law giving pedophiles protected status that in the same stroke they denied their returning war veterans. Yet we indignantly wonder that other countries, despite lavish “foreign aid,” don’t love us unquestioningly. Do we even imagine that the fragrance of our religion doesn’t utterly gag the Almighty? Yet we’re so sure we’re all destined for eternal glory. We’re Christians, after all! Well, let’s not bet the farm on it. Or our old bug collection for that matter.

God had His witness in Sodom. “Righteous Lot” lived among the people as God’s representative, but his desire to do business compromised his life, and he nearly died in their judgment. His wife did not even survive. Nineveh was, if anything, worse even than Sodom, but one unwilling prophet appeared on the scene to proclaim, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed!” Nineveh turned to God, and He held off His judgment.

Is there hope for this country? Will the US survive? Every lesson from history seems to scream to the negative. America has in the past been a savior to the other nations, pouring military and humanitarian aid into many nations to defeat dictators, to fight hunger, to help in education. Lately this is being more and more off set by our role as the UN’s pet bulldog in areas like the Balkans and the Mid-East. The humanitarian aid often “misses” areas that are in the worst need, and the education is more about self-worship and greed than anything useful or even honest. We think of Sodom as being some city-wide, full-time, romp, but the descriptions we see in the Bible could as well be about any city in this country. Where are the prophets? For over sixty years our recognised “prophets” have been clucking their tongues like an indulgent grandmother about, “not having God’s best” when the Spirit would have them issue a call to repent from the sins that are destroying this nation, and each life in it, from the inside out.

These “prophets” tell us that a revival will come when God “sovereignly” decides to send one, so we sit calmly in our sinking boats, refusing to either bail or row, and assure ourselves that we are in God’s will. God’s will is not for the churches in America to founder and sink. He has given us everything we need to not only stay afloat but to rescue those drowning all around us, but we adjust our deck chairs and religiously mutter, “But that is God’s job!” The Church is not preaching repentance, is not preaching righteousness, but is telling those drowning all around them that such things are only invisible legal fictions in the courts of Heaven. Can this nation survive if no preachers are even calling it to receive the life God has been trying to offer it? Can this nation turn to God if it truly believes that such a turn is only a matter of putting the right face on things? Nineveh heard their prophet, turned, and lived. Sodom compromised their prophet, and corrupted his message. Is there hope for America, or is this encroaching “secularisation” merely the darkness approaching as God withdraws His light?

The answer is up to us. “Ask, and you will receive, seek, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened.” By His grace we are able. Let us not let it slip!

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 24 May, 2009 at 9:24

Free in the Middle!

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Lately we hear people saying that the Bible is just a book, but it is only in Jesus that God revealed Himself. It is generally packaged in language that would sound a lot nicer, saying the Christ, alone, is the Word, or that the Bible is made of physical stuff like paper and ink, so how can we really trust it. Interestingly, a lot of these folks happen to have some paper and ink hanging on a wall someplace, which they expect to be taken quite seriously.

So what do we have, if we “only” have Jesus as God’s revelation? First off, without the 300+ Bible prophecies He fulfilled we’ve already overlooked some amazing credentials. Then we would also lose His history within the Old Testament record as there are a number of incidents in which He shows up as a special messenger for God, whether as the “Captain of the Lord’s hosts” to Joshua, the mysterious Melchizadek who met Abraham, and to whom Abraham gave a tithe (tenth part) of all he had gained in a miraculous victory of his servants against the kings of three cities, or any of many others. Then still we have Jesus quoting and authenticating the writings we’ve just been told aren’t authentic. Can we have it both ways? If God has spoken to us at all, then Jesus Christ is right in the middle of God’s revelation of Himself, as God personally, come as a man for mankind!

On the Cross, Jesus lived out what David wrote in Psalm 22 (among other places), and what Isaiah described in chapter 53 (among other places), and then rose again as predicted (again…). When He did rise, He told His disciples that it was necessary that He die and rise again as predicted in the Prophets, and that He would be returning to set all things right. If we take a serious look at Bible prophecy we find that hundreds of warnings and promises have already comeabout concerning captivities and returns, setting up and bringing down of kingdoms, and especially of Jesus’ coming as the “Son of Joseph,” the suffering Messiah. The promises of His Return, and the resurrection of all the dead (the righteous to eternal life, the rebellious to eternal torment) are just as sure, with His own resurrection as living proof that God is able to do even that.

So what do we do with that? Thomas had his doubts, but when confronted with the living Christ could only say, “My Lord and my God!” Thousands since him have gone the same way: They had their doubts, but when they were faced with that one Reality gave up their own worn-out opinions (as they suddenly saw them to be) for the Truth of God. When we consider what is in the balance, this is definitely one question that is worth finding out. Like Jesus said, “They will now the truth, and the truth will make them free,” and, “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed!”

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 20 April, 2008 at 18:04

Invisible Sidewalks?

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Picking up from “Pearls…” (below):

The streets in the City are made of “gold purified by fire, as clear as crystal.” Pure gold is a picture of faith throughout the Bible, and it is surely a “walk by faith” to step out onto a path that can’t be seen. those who walk on such streets have to be accustomed to walking where they cannot see, and going where they do not understand. For them, the invisible pavement will not be something unusual, but their usual way of walking, as we read, “for we walk by faith, and not by sight!”

With our eyes closed? No, but with our faith open! To follow Christ, to walk with Him, is a picture of sharing, trust, and love. What we do is as He leads, and empowers us. If we do not obey and walk with Him, it is not, as some suggest, a matter of faith, since it’s “just natural.” “The natural man,” the Bible tells us, “cannot understand the things of God,” but His plan for the Church is to comprehend His fullness and be transformed into His likeness, even in this life. So the harder we press forward, and the more of ourselves we give over to Him, the more we are (hopefully) showing the real faith that He has planted in our hearts. Not “works,” proving our own merit, but faith producing a loving obedience to our Lord. Stay tuned for the transformation!

Photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/italamaria/

Written by Robert Easter

Thursday, 27 March, 2008 at 22:02

Only Visiting this Planet

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A great hero to a lot of people, and a mentor to many, passed on to Glory this morning. Larry Norman, the first musician to use his musical “first language” (at least in the modern Western culture) pioneered was was disparaged as “Christian Rock and Roll” by a generation who still esteemed Fanny Crosby as the last word in hymnody. While not quite as prolific as Miss Crosby, Larry was responsible for songs like “Why Don’t You Look into Jesus,” “I am a Servant,” “The Outlaw,” and “Why Should the Devil (have all the good music).” Curiously, the last title was a tribute to Martin Luther, though many reacted as if he had attacked both the Church and her Lord in singing it.

For over ten years he was the only musician in the States singing for the Lord with contemporary styling, and one of very few to use a guitar. Besides his own talent, he graced us with such musicians as Mark Heard, Randy Stonehill, and Steve Taylor, and seemed to have borne much influence on Bob Dylan as Dylan did on his own work. Norman’s “Reader’s Digest,” “Six-O’Clock News,” and “Why Don’t You Look into Jesus” and such Dylan hits as “Serve Somebody,” reflect as much.

Having grown up in the only white family in an African-American neighborhood in Los Angeles, Larry learned early to love the Lord with his all, and to put his heart and soul into what was put before him, and in his case that “what” was proclaiming the praises of His Savior, which he did with everything he had: A guitar, a heart of love, and a voice that never impressed but always reached straight to the heart. Having assisted with his sound at one concert, that was what came across without ever trying. A real man of God who will be sorely missed. Sing loud, Larry! You’ve finally got the ultimate Audience!


Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 24 February, 2008 at 20:28

How Many Words?

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Christians of all kinds say that the Bible is God’s Word. That has been throughout the history of the Church, and in Israel long before that. But: What does that mean? Just that the words in those books are about this or that person’s impressions when confronted with something they did not understand? If this were true, then we could be assured that each writer would be going into that encounter with his own expectations, and would see the Unknown in that way. In other words, each encounter would be pretty much this or that person’s own opinions about a matter, only spiritualised . We see that today with so many opinions about divine encounters and self-realisation through anything from fasting and self-denial to cheap sex. Is this what we see in the Bible?

I’m not getting into a long list of the many different backgrounds of the writers, or the (often) thousands of years and of miles that separated them, or how so many of them were unaware of the others’ work. All that is there for who wants to read up on it. Neither am I laying out a list of the hundreds of predictions fulfilled by the Lord Jesus during His time in the flesh. All that is true,but let’s go on.

Some people ask complicated questions about how the Bible can be God’s Word when the Bible says Jesus is the Word. This might be best explained by changing “word” for “revelation.” From the Beginning God has been revealing Himself to mankind whether by “general revelation” like the beauty of the world around us, the many wonderful flavours available in our foods, our inner knowledge of “good” beyond any passed-down list of rules, and the nameless hunger in each of our hearts for that “something more.”

Beyond all that is the “special revelation” that we call His Word. We have history of God appearing in some way to the patriarchs, kings, prophets, and even to poor shepherds. He gave each of them a message. Sometimes that message was clear and simple about something that very day, sometimes it was nothing that could have made the least bit of sense to the people at that moment, and a lot of times it was extremely embarrassing to them; but they knew God had spoken, and they did not dare edit anything out in the copies. So we know that one of Jesus’ human ancestors was born from a widow seducing her father in law, that the priests in Ezekiel’s day were fascinated with pornography, and that cussing somebody by his mother did not just start in the 20^th Century. We know that somebody fell asleep during Paul’s preaching one night and fell off the window sill where he was sitting. And we know his name, and the fact that the fall from that upstairs window killed him, but that the Lord restored him.

It might have seemed easier to the early copyists to re-write that story to leave out the miraculous and appeal to the Greek love for wisdom and the Jewish love for scholarship, but that was how the Living God chose to reveal Himself, and that is what they would pass on.

Back on track now, God has revealed Himself through nature (including human nature), through special revelations, and through His Son. God, by His own nature, is constant, and consistent. He cannot lie, or change His mind, or get confused, so anything He says is going to fit perfectly with anything else He says. The reason we have so many “churches” today dates back to people either missing that fact or ignoring it for their own brief advantage. Brief, because the dangers of putting words in God’s mouth make dancing on high-voltage wires look like fun.

So God’s word is not a pile of bits and pieces to pick through, but a single “word” to you and me. If we allow His Spirit to guide us we begin to see the relationship of each part to the others so that we can even see the “sacred truths” of the various churches and teachers in light of all that God has said on the topic, putting everything in an eternal perspective.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom
teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things
with spiritual. [1 Cor. 2:13]

Written by Robert Easter

Wednesday, 9 January, 2008 at 11:56

Where is Your ID?

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Here’s something- Has God always been sovereign? Most folks would immediately answer, “But of course!” When we stop to think about it, while not diminishing one glimmer from His greatness, we find a bit of hitch. It works like this:

God is God, which means He has always been. The Universe, regardless of which data we look at, has not. If Sovereign means greater, then there would have to be a lesser for which the “sovereign” to be greater. Just a word game? Maybe not. As His creation, in His image (even if we don’t recognise it), our understanding of ourselves, of “life, the Universe, and everything,” hinges back on how we understand Him. Here’s a small example that has made a huge difference in the course of churches and nations over the past few hundred years, and has a huge impact today.

If God is not, first of all, sovereign, then what, first of all, is He? We could say that holiness fits the bill, bur only if we see holiness as that which pertains to God alone. Before Creation, though, what was there to be distinct from? John, “the Beloved.”​ wrote that, “God is love.” If God always has been (or, always is) then the love of the Father, or the Word, or the Spirit, Each for the Other, is from eternity. We know from two thousand years of revelation, worship, and study that Each Person is eternal, so the fact of that relationship is the oldest known fact about the One Who has always been. Just academic? Let’s find out:

In the first picture we have a “sovereign” God and a sinful human race. In view of God’s absolute sovereignty our sinful race is totally rebellious, depraved, helpless, and blind to all that is good or helpful. In order to prove His sovereignty even over sin, God chooses (something only He can do) to send the Word as a man and decree death on Him to give Himself a means by which to save a few humans, and to give Himself a Standard by which to damn the rest. Only those, and all of those, whom He chooses to save will be saved, and the rest will burn eternally to show the power of His wrath on those He chose not to rescue from their congenital condition. So the “Elect” respond to His salvation by acknowledging it was His doing that they are saved as members of a sovereignly-chosen class of sinners. Nothing we could do could affect that decision, and nothing we can do will affect its outcome. God is above all, and beyond all, we are all pitiful sinners, only forgiven.

In the second picture, God’s sovereignty is more about how we see Him than the defining word for His attitude toward us, or His decision about how to deal with us. We recognise God, first of all, as love. To be specific we would have to say, holy love. The point is that it is the total, giving, love, above all that we can but dream of, from the heart of the One Who cannot be tempted with evil. He is only good. When we see God’s motive for creation, and for redemption, as holy love rather than sovereignty, we find a picture not of judicial force but of reconciliation. God sees us, unable to make ourselves “good” except to our own minds, and takes pity on us. To declare us “righteous” without making us righteous would be a charade, but He sees that we need to be really made righteous in order to be reconciled to Him Who is the standard. He has shown us what it means to love, and set His love upon us, but being reconciled to Him means that His love lives in us, and through us, to complete the work, so marred by sin, of His image in us.

How does this happen? In His love, His Spirit is at work in all the world to convince sinners of their need for God, and enables them to do so. It is not that people are “not that bad,” so that we are showing our goodness in turning to Him, but that we are admitting to what He has shown us: Our need for Him as our only hope! He draws us to himself, and works in us to grow us up to be like Jesus, from the inside, out. No one is saved without having a say in the matter, and no one is lost without any responsibility in the matter. To the contrary, to the saved He opens every door to grow in His grace and to be made holy, in Hi s own likeness, by the very power of God acting in and through our lives as He teaches us to obey and follow. The model here is not simply the great King and the lowly servant, but the great King is so many other things to us as He calls us to approach Him- to be near Him, to belong to Him, and to be like Him. The difference is that, in the first picture we have God as a boatman motoring through a shipwreck cherry- picking among the drowning for reasons known only to Him; and the other He is seeking to save each one, showing each the reaching to each, and somehow giving each one the strength to grab the oar outreached. Each one saved is not merely stashed in the hold but empowered and employed in the work of bringing others onboard as well, and at the same time becoming like the Boatman through time spent with Him, and listening to His voice.

So what’s the key difference? Just what do we think God’s “Primary attribute” might be? Whether or not we actually have a free will? Whether it’s possible to fall out of the boat? Or how dearly God really loves us? All these are good for a discussion, but maybe it’s about the image of God (Imago Dei) on each of us. The Bible tells us that He made us, male and female, in His image. Then came sin, and the image was marred. We are free to consider whether the ID is marred or destroyed, but the fact that we are free to consider suggests some part of the ID is still there, or else that the Spirit is present to restore it in this life, and that restoring work is what it’s really all about.

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 18 November, 2007 at 19:43