October 4, 2016
From the Hewer of Wood
Even More Fundamentals
For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals—those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and turn aside the way of the afflicted; a man and his father go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned; they lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge, and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined. Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars and who was as strong as the oaks; I destroyed his fruit above and his roots beneath. Also it was I who brought you up out of the land of Egypt and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. (Amos 2:6–10)
In the previous Teachings, I promised to pick up the thought left unfinished—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of living ones (same deity), not the God of dead ones (from Matt 22:32) ended His marriage to the natural descendants of the patriarch Israel by entering His creation as His unique Son, the man Jesus of Nazareth, who did not come into this world fully man and fully God, but entered His creation as a man who was without sin; a man not consigned to disobedience and therefore free to keep His Father’s Commandments, spoken by His Father, the Logos, from atop Mount Sinai. That is correct: until the spirit of God [pneuma Theou] in the bodily form of a dove descended upon and entered into [eis — from Mark 1:10] Him when John raised Him from the watery grave of baptism in the Jordan, Jesus had no Father but the Logos [’o Logos] who was with [or “of” — pros] the God [ton Theon] and who was God [Theos — no definite article, but shares the article for ’o Logos] (John 1:1). However, when the spirit of God entered into His spirit, Jesus became the Firstborn Son of “the God.” He became the host (as the whale was the host for Jonah) for a new creature, a son of God the Father, conceived inside His inner self, with this new creature being the Christ, a root shoot (tree sucker) growing from the stump of Jesse (Isa 11:1–5). And the man Jesus became the model or pattern for the spiritual birth of every son of God born out of season, figuratively speaking.
Christians assume that God the Father was the “Father” of the infant Jesus of Nazareth, but this assumption is false. The Logos was the Father of the infant Jesus, and the Logos could not impart spiritual life to anyone. Physical life, yes; spiritual life, no. The granting of indwelling eternal life was the prerogative of the Father alone; for the Father was the God of dead ones, the God of those who had no indwelling spiritual life. The Father was the one who raised what was without life in the heavenly realm to life through receipt of His holy spirit [pneuma ’agion].
If Jesus would have been fully God and fully man as is taught within greater Christendom, there would have been no need for the spirit or “breath” of God to descend upon and enter into the man Jesus; He already would have indwelling eternal or heavenly life. He wouldn’t have truly “died” when He entered His creation as His unique Son. He would have been Himself as “Jesus.”
In order for the God of Abraham to break His “marriage” to natural Israel, whom He identified as His firstborn son (Ex 4:22) before marriage at Sinai, either all of Israel had to die, or He had to truly die. And the dynamics of timelessness doesn’t allow the presence of life to coexist with the absence of life, and vice versa. He had life with the God [again, ton Theon, objective case]. Therefore, He could not die for as long as He remained in heaven or in the Abyss created when a rent was torn in the fabric of heaven, a rent through which was flushed the Adversary and his rebelling angels, with the physical galaxy created in the Abyss from the primal energy that poured as blood and water poured from the wound in Jesus’ side (John 19:34) from heaven into the Abyss, suggesting that in His body, Jesus represented “heaven” and that heaven functioned as a living entity until iniquity was discovered in an anointed guardian cherub. This also suggests that the reason for a new heaven, a recreated heaven, is that the damage done to heaven by the Adversary’s rebellion was extensive enough that the previous heaven could not heal itself; that the body of Christ had to go from an earthly, fleshly body to a glorious spiritual body, then to many brothers being glorified in a manner similar to Him being born of spirit, with these brothers eventually forming New Jerusalem at the core of a new heaven and new earth, a non-physical heaven and earth.
Jesus told Jews seeking His life for healing the invalid of 38 years on the Sabbath that, “‘For as the Father raises the dead and gives to them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will’” (John 5:21) … to whom does the Son give life if the Father raises the dead? The Son can then only give life to the living, which means that life is twice given, once by the Father to the inner self of a person, then by the Son when the perishable is replaced by the imperishable with the revealing of judgments. “‘The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father’” (v. 22). But perhaps of greatest importance is, “‘For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man’” (vv. 26–27).
Having “life” in Himself is the perquisite for being able to give indwelling spiritual life to another potential son of God, angelic or human. Jesus didn’t have life in Himself until the spirit or breath of the Father descended upon Him in the bodily form of a dove, followed by resurrection from death three and a half years later. Jesus was not “God” in the sense that He was a life-giving spirit [pneuma] (from 1 Cor 15:45) until after the Father had twice raised him from death, the first time following His baptism when the spirit of God entered into [eis] Him; the second time being after He was in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. And again, in this Jesus in His person serves as the model for every son of God’s spiritual birth.
The spirit of God will not normally appear as a dove, as a white dove or dove of any other color when a person is born of spirit. So how is a chosen one [one of the Elect] to know that he or she has been born of spirit?
When one of the chosen ones [the Elect] receives the spirit of God in the spirit of Christ, there is usually no outward indication that a new creature (a son of God) has been conceived inside the person—and this agrees with spiritual birth’s physical counterpart, human birth; for many women do not realize they are pregnant until some small of amount of time passes after conception. A few women know immediately; most do not until physical changes occur such as missing a period. Likewise, most of the chosen ones cannot point to the moment when they received the indwelling of the spirit of Christ; however, as was my case, when a chosen one examines him or herself before taking the Passover sacraments two years after beginning, the person realizes inner changes have occurred, changes that cannot be explained by what has happened physically to the person. There is character growth, but that isn’t quite the right expression. There is character change, as if the person’s former character is being overwritten as a computer update overwrites the former operating system—as Windows 8.1 was overwritten by Windows 10, thereby causing me all kinds of problems even through Windows 10 works better for Microsoft. And this might be the analogy that best describes what happens when born of spirit; for I was pretty happy with my life. I was “playing” at being in business, shooting three to four thousand rounds a month, hunting, fishing (I caught 21 summer steelhead in the Siletz River during June 1971), building caplock rifles in the California style, and still working in Georgia-Pacific’s pulpmill, which paid well enough that money wasn’t an obstacle over which I continually stumbled as has been the case since being drafted into the Body of Christ.
Tithing is expected of a son of God, expected by God of all His sons. But tithing doesn’t guarantee financial prosperity. There is no bargaining with God; no quid pro quo relationship as expressed by the prophet Malachi:
But you say, “How shall we return?” Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, “How have we robbed you?” In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the window of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. (Mal 3:7–10)
The physical nation of Israel served the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Creator of all things physical, the God of living ones. Ancient Israel did not know nor serve God the Father, the God of dead ones. But sons of God, born of spirit, serve God the Father as Christ Jesus served/serves the Father. Therefore, instead of storing up treasure on earth—the only place where physical Israel can store its treasure—sons of God store up treasure in heaven, where this treasure is not in material wealth (things that have mass), but in the non-physical things of heaven that will become, as glaze on pottery, part of who the son of God is, with Paul writing of Jesus,
Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, (Phil 2:9–10)
A clay pot is thrown on a wheel by a potter, then set back to dry. And when dry, it is fired: the clay is changed and becomes hard enough to cut steel, hone steel. The now bisque ware pot is painted with a glaze, the glaze being an addition to the pot that when the pot is again fired at a higher temperature, becomes part of the ceramic pot. And so will it be for glorified sons of God, with the inner self glorified while still dwelling in a house of flesh, analogous to Jonah in the whale.
I don’t know how many times I heard sermons preached on robbing God, the preacher assuring his parishioners that if they were truly faithful in their tithing, God would pour out His blessing on each and every one of them … I was faithful in my tithing, yet I was barely getting by; so I got to asking others what they thought about the tithing principle, was tithing working for them. And inevitably, I heard parroted back to me exactly what had been said from the pulpit. But when I probed deeper I found the same financial want I had in those who truly seemed to be genuine disciples. I also found that those who did not seem genuine were prospering quite nicely.
Before I get too far away from a thought, permit me to finish the thought: because the rewards and treasure stored in heaven aren’t in the form of tangible goods, these rewards and treasure aren’t things that can be carried in a sack. Rather, they are added to the glorified son of God as a glaze is painted on a pot, then the pot refired at a higher heat with the glaze vitrifying and becoming part of the pot. Therefore, the glorified outer self is not likely to appear as the fleshly body appeared. The glorified outer self in which the glorified inner self now dwells will have as a part of it the treasure the person stored up in heaven.
Paul wrote, “I tell you this, brothers, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Cor 15:50 emphasis added). Thus, after judgments are revealed and rewards dispensed, do not expect to be recognized by former friends: you should not appear as you appear now. Rather, you should appear as the glorified Christ appears—and John in vision sees the glorified Christ:
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest. The hairs of His head were white like wool, as while as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, from His mouth came a sharp two-edged [double-lipped] sword, and His face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Rev 1:12–16)
Back to tithing: so what about physical rewards for tithing? What I have seen is that the disciple truly born of God does not receive more than the person needs to survive in this world, but the disciple not born of God will accumulate a surplus of “things” and wealth in this world when this person faithfully tithes; for the person is unable to store up treasures in heaven, for this person has no “presence” in heaven. So the televangelist who encourages his disciples to sow seed in his ministry benefits physically, but not spiritually; for no person truly born of God would ever say such a thing. Instead, the person truly born of spirit will work as Paul worked, placing no burden on those whom he or she teaches, but trusting God to supply his or her needs.
I first came to Alaska in spring 1974, when I had no money and no connections in Alaska. I had wanted to move North since I was in high school: as a high school senior, I applied to three universities, with University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) being one of the three. I was accepted by all three, but I couldn’t afford to go to UAF even though tuition was free; I couldn’t afford room and board. So I remained in Oregon, wanting to relocate North until summer 1969, when I was actually hired by a Prince George, British Columbia, pulp mill, but told not to report for work until their pending strike was settled … the strike lasted six months. And in those six months, the State of Oregon opened Hart Mountain Wildlife Refuge to a muzzleloading deer hunt, and I received orders for enough rifles to keep me busy for two years. Portland sporting goods distributors gave me accounts, and I also began shooting high power competition. I wasn’t going anywhere. Then came being drafted into the Body of Christ in 1972. That was followed in 1973 by the Yom Kippur War, gas lines, a general shutting down of the economy, and not enough money to pay $45/month rent. I traded deer antlers to downriver hippies (who made hash pipes from them) for a few dozen traps, and from a small fur check, I paid my December and January 1974 electric bill. Yet five months later, I was on the Kenai, falling its scrubby timber for fifty cents a stick, making a $100/day and getting out of the woods by 2:30 in the afternoon. What happened?
What I couldn’t afford to do for myself, God did for me—and that seems to be how tithing works for the Elect. The person gets what the person needs. And in my case, I needed to be put into cold storage until the ministry of Herbert Armstrong collapsed from its own weight and died from, figuratively, two bullets in its head: the death of Herbert Armstrong, followed by the death of Joseph Tkach Sr.
When Little Joe took over, the work of Herbert Armstrong was over. And though the many splinters of Armstrong’s ministry have tried to put that work back on the maps of greater Christendom, the work is dead as it should be: it has been burned up for it was a work of straw.
Seeing so many former brothers in Christ disappear into the flotsam of history has been sad. There were approximately 600 baptized members in Alaska in 1979. There are today a few dozen members in the various splinters … the missing members are not in Sabbath services because they were never taught the fundamentals of Christianity as presented in Paul’s Gospel; they were taught Christianity according to Moses, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. However, those who are still attending Sabbath services somewhere will now say that they were never taught by a man; they were taught by God! Well, if that’s the case, God isn’t much of a teacher; for God didn’t give them understanding of spiritual birth, or of Hebrew poetics, or of Acts being a historical novel, or even of Matthew’s Gospel being about the indwelling Christ Jesus. And if God were their teacher, why has God called disciples to teach, and to preach? Paul wrote (in a recently used citation),
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith [belief] comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom 10:13–17)
Indeed, who has believed? Not those who are not where they ought to be spiritually. Not those who know less about Scripture than even Armstrong knew, and he would openly tell everyone that he was not born of spirit; he was merely begotten. (It is true that he was not born of spirit.) Not those who have become theological fossils. Not those who refuse to take the Passover sacraments on the Passover because Christians allegedly dwell in the reality of Yom Kipporim, as their prophetess proclaimed a century and a half ago.
Among the intellectuals of academia; among those Christians who have quit tithing, the question persists: why doesn’t God intervene in a more dramatic and powerful way in the affairs of the world, or more narrowly, in the affairs of the Elect? But perhaps the better question is, why should He?
What most Christians and what the world doesn’t understand is that human beings are pawns in a cosmic board game, a demonstration that bottom-up governance in transactional economies produces prosperity that can never be obtained by man living under his own vine and tree, how God would have had Israel dwell in the Promised Land.
The Lord chose Abraham, and his descendants Isaac, and Jacob as His human cultivar; He permitted Joseph to go to Egypt, then the center of learning outside of China, and gave Joseph favor so that he became second in all the land. But there are dynamics at work here that Christians have never understood. The Adversary remains the prince of this world, the prince of the power of the air. And as such, all authority in this world, regardless of the origin of that authority, comes from or either though the Adversary—and this is by the will of God. For God has the unenviable task of killing an idea, the basis of the Adversary’s rebellion; for the Adversary has argued for the superiority of democratic rule in transactional economies, the values of ancient Greece (values represented by the color yellow, as in gold and bronze). And killing an idea only comes about when the idea is shown to be flawed, meaning that for God to snuff out the rebellion the Adversary initiated, He has to permit the Adversary a reasonable opportunity to show that what the Adversary advocates will or won’t work. And He has to do this while keeping His hands off the demonstration.
Why did God let little Tommy die—the question atheists introduce in its various forms to show that no God exists, that no divine force for good exists.
Little Tommy died because the Adversary remains the prince of this world, and he has been a murderer from his beginning.
Why did God permit six million Jews and about the same number of ethnic minorities to be exterminated as if they were vermin during WWII? Why didn’t He intervene? Why didn’t He do something? He did something. He kept His hands off the Adversary’s demonstration so that the Adversary couldn’t accuse Him of sabotaging his proof of self-rule’s superiority. And if this meant that He, God, had to watch a people still loved because of their ancestors be murdered in almost unimaginable numbers, He watched but He doesn’t forget. The Adversary will answer for every one of those murders, as will the actual murderers—and by what authority do I write this? By the authority of having the mind of Christ through having the indwelling of Christ Jesus. Yes, by having the mind of Christ.
A human infant is born with the mind of man even though the infant doesn’t think the thoughts of a man; cannot even imagine the way of a man with a maid. Nevertheless, this human infant never receives a different mind other the mind of man with which the infant is born unless the person is born of God as an infant son of God dwelling in the adult body of a human person. Therefore, a son of God, born as a new creation from the indwelling of the spirit of Christ in this person’s human spirit, has the mind of Christ from conception. And though the newly born son of God thinks the thoughts of a spiritual infant and not the thoughts of the mature Christ Jesus, the son of God has the indwelling of the mind of Christ, which doesn’t “suddenly” give all knowledge to the son of God, but gives to this younger sibling to Christ Jesus the ability to learn spiritual matters … having the mind of Christ doesn’t make the person a better carpenter or tin merchant, but permits the chosen one to understand why Jesus told Sadducees and Pharisees that He would give only one sign that He was from heaven, the sign of Jonah.
The Lord selected Abraham as a man who believed Him and would act on his belief by relocating to where he had never been before … again, belief that produces action is faith. And because Abraham believed God, Abraham had his belief counted to him as righteousness (Gen 15:6). But this belief was tested by the Lord; for what Abraham believed was that he would have heirs that were of his loins.
And what about the testing of Abraham’s faith, his righteousness?
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Gen 22:1–2)
Abraham was to kill his seed, Isaac, not a test many Christians could pass nor would want to undergo. Yet “Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him#8221; (Gen 22:3).
Do you, as a Christian, think you could pass this test? That you could get ready to sacrifice your only son of record? Or are you squeamish when it comes to shedding blood? Of course, you could say, My God would never ask that of me. And you’re probably correct for your belief of God, your faith couldn’t survive any significant testing.
The Apostle Paul tended to ignore that Abraham’s righteousness, credited to him by his belief of the Lord, was tested, meaning that your belief of God as a Christian (your faith) will also be tested before you leave this world. Just because you are today cloaked in the garment of Jesus’ righteousness doesn’t mean that you don’t need to practice walking uprightly and being blameless before God, Father and Son.
Think about whether your belief of God could pass a test such as Abraham’s belief passed—and Abraham did pass, with James writing,
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. … Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (Jas 2:14–24)
The dynamics of timelessness permitted God, when Abram complained about not having an heir (Gen 15:2–3), to both promise Abram an heir and to see that Abram [now Abraham] would believe God enough to sacrifice that heir, believing that God would somehow restore to him the promised heir. Hence, Abraham truly believed God. Whatever God would have asked of Abraham, Abraham would have done. And how many Christians can say that about their faith, their belief of God? Too many didn’t even keep the Sabbath once Little Joe told them that they didn’t have-to.
Again, this is enough for one Teaching. Next time we’ll look at the validity of Scripture.
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."