We Deny the Way of the Lord

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Bible Readings for Sunday, December 4th, 2011
– The Week of The Second Sunday of Advent

*Click on each bible passage to expand the text.

Isaiah 40:1-11

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

2 Peter 3:8-15

Mark 1:1-8

  • A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” – Isaiah 40:3-4
  • You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. – Psalm 85:2
  • The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9
  • And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” – Mark 1:7-8

On The Level

2 Peter 3

9. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

How will the Lord keep his promise? How will God get what God wants, that nothing shall perish and everyone shall come to repentance?

God shall accomplish all things by bringing everything level, in other words, equal.

Isaiah 40

3. A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.
4. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
5. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

*For more on my thoughts regarding this “highway for our God” imagery, please read “The Ultimate Commandments – Love, Traffic Jams and Jesus“.

Valleys brought “up, mountains and hills made “low”… no we’re not talking literal landscapes here, we’re talking about society. This is a description of God’s Great Equalization of Society, where the high and mighty are brought low and the poor and downtrodden are raised up. This “radical equalization” is a theme throughout the bible, and was even featured in a song sung by Mary when she first told Elizabeth of the angel’s proclamation about her son:

Luke 1

52. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
53. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. (Mary’s Song)

Even Yeshua warned of God’s Great Equalization in his Beatitudes, one of his earliest sermons in his short ministry:

Luke 6

20. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
22. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

24. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
25. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
26. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

Promises Fulfilled?

Yet, I am confused. I look around this world, and I don’t see the results of a “Great Leveling”. There is still so much inequity, injustice and disparity amongst the high and low of our society. What was the point of Yeshua’s life, ministry, death and resurrection if we can’t see the outward signs of this leveling. Where is the Way of the Lord?

Is this some future promise, the “easy out” as I like to call it? This is the standard Evangelical line in America: all the good stuff comes later… after… and only for the righteous few.

Bullshit, I say. There’s a reason we can’t see the results of God’s Great Leveling, the work of the Son, the blood of the Cross, the promise of the Resurrection…

… the reason is: WE won’t let it happen.

That’s right: WE won’t let it happen. The landscapes depicted in the Great Leveling that are made smooth, level and equal are not the landscapes of this world, but the rough edges and dark recesses of the human heart. But we refuse to let the change occur.

We deny everything God stands for – compassion, justice, redemptive love, Grace – and in doing so we deny God.

How are we so powerful, as to deny the will of the Glorious Author of Existence itself?? Who are we to have any say in the matter?

We are the very image of God, indued with all of the knowledge and power of creation/destruction as the Divine Artificer. We are the pinnacle of God’s creation on Earth, and as far as this realm is concerned, we are the hands, heart, and mouth of God. Our will is God’s will.

This Great Leveling cannot be done for us, we must do it ourselves.

Romans 8

19. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21. that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

… and as long as our will is focused only toward “me, myself, and mine”, then it might as well be that Mary, Elizabeth, John the Baptist and even Yeshua never existed. We negate God when we live against God’s will for this world.

So, in this season of Advent, let us begin to let go of our selfish desires, and start to live – even tiny moments – of each day for the “other” of this world: those with less, those without, those in need. These deficiencies could be that of love, freedom, equality, financial, spiritual… the list could go on and on and may at times seem overwhelming.

There is so much leveling to be done, but one rock at a time, the craggy landscape of the human heart can be made level for the Way of the Lord. Together, empowered through Grace, emboldened by the promise of Life in Christ, for the sake of the world.

“Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not.” – Anonymous

Trig Bundgaard About Trig Bundgaard

Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your feedback, thoughts and ideas about what I've written. Especially if it's contrary to my views!

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Grace and peace to you!

Romans 5
"18. Therefore just as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.
19. For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."

Comments

  1. Praisehizname says:

    Trig,

    You said:

    “Is this some future promise, the “easy out” as I like to call it? This is the standard Evangelical line in America: all the good stuff comes later… after… and only for the righteous few.”

    Yet earlier in Romans 8 Paul says this (verse 14):

    “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”

    “For those lead by the spirit…” Do you believe everyone is led by the Spirit? Or is it only those who ask Christ for repentence of sin and follow him. I do have to say my friend, you have dodged my question several times…is Hitler a child of God, who is a citizen in God’s (new) kingdom?

    • Yes, of course Hitler is a child of God. After God finishes exacting justice and the soul of this evil man is restored through the refining fire of God’s redemptive love, it will be awakened into the truth of God’s Kingdom.

      See: http://www.epochalypsis.org/2011/how-jesus-furnace-of-fire-confirms-universal-salvation

      It will not be pretty, and some might even describe the process of restoration as terrifying (i.e. Scrooge’s experience in Dickens’ “Christmas Carol”), but no matter how dark, everything experienced is for the sole purpose of awakening the soul to the realities of it’s actions while here in this mortal coil. Only through the awful weight of final consequence will a spiritual heart ever change.

      But never to punish, only to restore. See: http://www.epochalypsis.org/2011/pruning-and-kolasis

      Finally, for the big picture: http://www.epochalypsis.org/christian-universalism-treatise

      I think I’ve answered this question clearly every time you’ve asked it, PHN. Why is it so apparently difficult for your heart to imagine other receiving the same grace as you’ve received, albeit on a much greater scale in the case of Hitler?

      • Additionally,

        “For those lead by the spirit…” Do you believe everyone is led by the Spirit?

        Yes, I do believe everyone is born with the spirit of love and is led by the spirit. However, this can quickly be perverted and destroyed through the acts of others. Then an individual whose heart has been hardened can deny the spirit’s clear direction. But the spirit is always present, working, urging… aiding a reformation.

      • Praisehizname says:

        Trig,

        I have no problem with it! Maybe Hitler sought redemption in his last few manic hours on this earth. If he sought God’s forgiveness he was forgiven. Our disagreement is wether or not his salvation is garunteed or not,

        I guess my biggest question Trig is this: Why worry then about the afterlife or judgement if we will all get a pass?

        “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. ”

        The word “destruction” does not sound like “renewal” to me.

        • We all get a free pass, it’s called grace. We can use this pass to get off of the road to destruction. If we choose to stay, we will crash and burn, and God guarantees that He will be there to pick up the pieces and make us whole again.

        • PHN, are you aware of this?

          “: “My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter.” – Adolf Hitler, before a crowd in Munich.

          If words are all that it takes to receive salvation, with no justice and restoration for the soul, then by your systematic theology (as I think I understand it), Adolf Hitler received no consequences for being a mass murderer.

          Under my system of theology, all souls are required to be refined within God’s refining fire of love, wherein every last soul will wholly realize the price of their choices and actions here on earth.

          I do believe that all are saved, but I also believe in justice and consequence, but always restorative, never punitive, and never eternal.

          • Praisehizname says:

            Trig,

            Interesting, that quote continues on as an assault on the Jews so right there you can see the man did not respect Gods word…or his people. Privately, according to those close to him, he made some disparging remarks about Christianity. Obviously, I think we can both agree that his evil deeds were not the fruit of a Christ follower regardless of statement he might have made.

            No, of course…words mean nothing. How many phoney pastors…or politicians get up and espouse thier “faith” for us to later find it was all for show, political purpose, etc.

            No, God knows the sincere heart. The other day I cited the story told of the two men praying to the Lord…God knew who the sincere follower was and stated he was “justified before God.”

            I constantly worry about my own fitness for Heaven. Some say that is wrong, but I am like the publican praying…I am an unworthy sinner and I await God’s judgemnent.

            I disagree with some of my fellow “fundies” who believe once salvation is recieved you have it forever. I disagree, but look, you have some evangelicals that are halfway to your position!

            But answer my question as if I am a non-believer who says to you “So Trig, I am not a believer and don’t intend to be, but if I am gonna be given eternal life regardless, why sweat it now? I want to have some fun! And I don’t mean bowling with the Church youth group! I want to have anyonomous sex with multiple partners, ignore my possible offspring I produce, do drugs and drink and totally look out for myself.”

            • PHN, why do you keep insisting there are no implied consequences to Christian Universalism??

              Please, please, please read this link: http://www.epochalypsis.org/christian-universalism-treatise#judgment. I address this assumption of yours in great detail.

              NO ONE gets off scot-free in Christian Universalism. We all fall short, we all must be refined.

              I have gone out of my way to try and illustrate to you that the bible promises that we will face the refining fire of the consequences of our actions. If we manage to escape this mortal coil scot-free, without any sense of the weight of our actions, the bible promises every last soul on Earth will be held accountable to the law of love, and the example of Christ.

              But this is a temporal restoration, not an eternal punishment.

              • Many people can’t wait for hell, they have to bring it to themselves. To partake in “anyonomous sex with multiple partners, ignore my possible offspring I produce, do drugs and drink and totally look out for myself,” certainly brings negative consequences in the here and now. Worse, it brings negative consequences to others as well (offspring, loved ones, victims of drunk driving to name a few).
                Just like we don’t have to experience and end to this bodily life in order to know heaven, we can also know hell.

                If we had not perverted our humanity (selfishness rather than selflessness), there would have been no separation from God. Our own sin has made us less than human.

                Heaven and hell are the journey, not the destination.

                • Praisehizname says:

                  Hell not a destination?

                  David, what is Jesus talking about then in Matthew 10:28?

                  “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

                  What is the destination? A mankind that brings on itself Jesus’ grace?

                  I asked Trig to refute the verses I cited a week or two ago where the bible clearly says Christ will return for all to see… not through our actions, not through a now “re-spirited” makind that does good deeds and makes the world a just place. That ain’t happening…

                  • PHN, you keep missing the point of these passages because you edit them before they conclude. Ironically, Mt 10:28 is not a threat of Hell, but actually an assurance that God will not abandon us to Hell! You simply have to continue the verse:

                    Matthew 10
                    28. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

                    So “DO NOT BE AFRAID”! Yet, here you are, trying to instill fear with that exact passage.

                    Why? Why do you need Hell so badly, PHN? Is the thought of influencing others with love, compassion and hope so alien to your heart that you can only resort to threats of torment and instilling fear??

                    • Praisehizname says:

                      “Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body?

                      Why do I need hell so badly? I don’t. I don’t think the best way to win followers is to scare them by telling them to follow Christ so they don’t burn in hell…

                      …but Trig…Christ himself mentions hell, the word hell…15 times in the 4 gospels. Then there are other instances where he use terms such as “everlasting fire.” Yes “everlasting.” Sure, you will say that the literal translation is not correct…ut the other terms “weeping and gnashing, everalsting fire, lake of fire, eternal punsihment, thrown outside,” you can’t explain those all away as translation issues.

                      You also have to yet to explain all the literal translations of Christ’s return I cited that you have yet to explain.

                      I have no desire to see hell or see people condemmed to it. But, your theology is false my friend…it is a theology that immediatly makes non believers say…”great…glad to hear I will not be condemned…In the meantime, I will choose the wide gate…” the very wide gate Christ warned of! Why did Christ say there were two paths – if in reality there is only one as you say..one where everyone is redeemed?

                      Finally, when you think of it and my so called desire for “torment” your doctrine says that God will force the wicked into a room and torment them into becoming followers…not the product of free will. That is very bizzare in my mind.

                      So, in conclusion, Trig, your doctrine is false and I must speak the truth…at least as I see it.

                    • Yes, PHN. They are all mistranslations, which you can easily find by doing a little light reading of this here blog. But don’t take my word for it. Take hers: Razing Hell: Rethinking Everything You’ve Been Taught About God’s Wrath and Judgment

                      I have worked myself to the bone to research, prove, test… this is original Christian theology, like it or not. This is as orthodox as it gets.

  2. Jesus kept it simple, we complicate. A simple message made difficult.
    God built into each of us the capacity to know God. It is simply the ability to love.
    Don’t let the translation get in the way of the greatest commandment.

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