The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Part One)

There is a story that God put the man and the woman in a garden and told them that all the trees of the garden were theirs to eat from, except for one: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then the serpent came and asked them, “Did God really say that you could not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge… Assuredly, you will not die when you eat the fruit, but will become like God, knowing both good and evil.” So the man and the woman looked at the tree of knowledge of good and evil and decided to eat its fruit.

To many people this sounds like a story about how God made an arbitrary rule and punishment and then decided to visit all the evil in the world on humankind because a couple human beings decided that they weren’t going to follow an arbitrary and purposeless rule. Continue reading “The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Part One)”

The Joy and Death of the Friend of the Bridegroom

“I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight paths for Him.’”

“After me there comes One who ranks ahead of me, for He was before me, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

“The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom waits for him and is overjoyed when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That is my joy and it is now complete. He must increase and I must decrease.”

Finally, from prison, John sends his disciple’s to Jesus with these words: “Are You He who is to come, or look we for another?”

Imagine for a moment who John was. Continue reading “The Joy and Death of the Friend of the Bridegroom”

Why Those Who Will Not Forgive Cannot Be Forgiven

“Do not judge. For with the measure with which you measure, it will be measured back to you.”

“If you do not forgive others, neither will your Father who is in Heaven forgive you your sins.”

What if forgiveness is something more, but never less, than the remittance of punishment deserved for wrongs?

What if God will have all His sons and daughters to be perfect as He Himself is perfect, holy because He Himself is holy? Continue reading “Why Those Who Will Not Forgive Cannot Be Forgiven”

God’s Final Revelation

“When He received glory and honor from God the Father, this declaration was made to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this declaration from Heaven when we stood with Him on the mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you would do well to pay attention, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”

These verses are often taken to mean that the words written in the Bible are a more certain guide to God than dreams or visions. It is not, however, clear to me Continue reading “God’s Final Revelation”

What Does Being Like Angels Have to Do With Marriage in Heaven?

What if, when Jesus said, “They neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels in Heaven,” He was not denouncing any possibility of an enduring union between a man and a woman, but declaring that what the Saducees (and doubtless the Pharisees also) called ‘marriage’ had nothing to do with real marriage, with the union He had created?

I write this tentatively, alerting any readers to the fact that while there is something here, with regards to this topic of which I am certain (else I would not be writing this) there is much more which I do not know, and it is not even very clear to me how to differentiate between what I know and what I suggest only in order to provide a frame in which to suggest what I know to others. Continue reading “What Does Being Like Angels Have to Do With Marriage in Heaven?”

Call Me Blessed, for the Mighty One Has Done Great Things for Me

“My soul exults in the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has had regard for the lowly state of His handmaid. From this day on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His Name. His mercy is upon generations of those who fear Him… He casts down rulers from their thrones, and exalts those who were humbled. He fills the hungry with good things, while the rich He has sent empty away…”

Thus runs Mary’s Magnificat, her song in which she praises God’s mercy towards herself – and towards all. Continue reading “Call Me Blessed, for the Mighty One Has Done Great Things for Me”

Worship Belongs to the Little Children

“Out of the mouths of infants You have ordained praise for Yourself, because of the foe and the adversary.”

“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”

“Truly, truly I say to you, unless you receive the Kingdom of Heaven like a little child, you shall not enter it.”

“Unless you become as little children, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

“I thank You, Father, that Thou hast hidden these things from the prudent and the wise, and hast revealed them to little children, yeah, Father, for so it pleased you.”

The Kingdom of God is as open to children as it is to anyone. Children can know God. It is not harder for a child to worship God than for an adult. It is not more difficult for God to reveal Himself to a baby than to a grown-up.

The entirety of our being is made by and for God. Therefore Continue reading “Worship Belongs to the Little Children”

Celibacy, Hospitality, and Church Leadership

What is “Church Leadership?” What does it even mean?

Why do so many (at least in Evangelical circles of various denominations) consider lifelong dedicated celibacy so lowly? Why is it something almost no one considers, while marriage is lauded everywhere? Why is it something no one sees and no one is encouraged to consider?

Maybe the two questions are related? Maybe “Church Leadership” and celibacy, though not identical, should often be seen together?

What if “Church Leadership” is more than preaching sermons and getting to know “church members” and “counseling” people? What if “Church Leadership” should mean being an example to both the brethren and those who do not yet believe? What if, anyone who isn’t so, is by definition not a “Church Leader?” Continue reading “Celibacy, Hospitality, and Church Leadership”

Heaven: To See the Face of God in Christ and Be Like Him

“I shall see Thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied when I awake after Thy likeness.”

“Little children, it is not yet manifest what we shall be, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

“Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God.”

“We who behold with unveiled faces the glory of the Lord as in a mirror are being transformed into that same image as from glory to glory.”

“Now we know in part; then we shall know in full. Now we see as in a mirror dimly; then we shall see face to face.”

“He predestined us to be conformed to the image of Christ so that He should be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Heaven is the fulfillment of our nature. It is to see Him whom we were created to see, and by seeing to be like Him. It is the Beatific Vision: the direct, immediate (not mediated) presence of God in and to the soul.

In Heaven, we shall be like Christ. Continue reading “Heaven: To See the Face of God in Christ and Be Like Him”