LUTHER’S LEGACY

luther
The Reformer
The EOC – the Reformation debate’s elephant in the room

RE-FORMATION THESIS #67 of 95: Luther's revolt was triggered by deformed practice and doctrine within the Roman Catholic Church; but the Eastern Orthodox Church was relatively unaffected by the sixteenth century upheavals and continues to affirm the historically understood sacerdotal and sacrificial nature of the Holy Eucharist

As the wording of this thesis is intended to imply, the sixteenth century ecclesiological hiatus euphemistically termed “the Reformation” was triggered by corrupt practices and deformed doctrines within the medieval Church of Rome. The issue of “indulgencies” in particular was the focal point of Augustinian monk Brother Martin Ludher’s condemnation [note#1].  “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs” – a saying attributed to Johann Tetzel, papal seller of indulgences to raise money to rebuild St Peter’s Basilica in Rome who plied his trade in the vicinity of Luther’s home town. On reflection, what Christian would not support the Reformers in sixteenth century Europe? Seemingly spiritually insightful men pleading scriptural truths against the deformed doctrines and practices of the monolith that was the medieval Roman Catholic Church.

However, Luther merely set the ball rolling; a still more marked dissent from Catholic doctrine and teaching followed through the likes of Zwingli and Calvin which distressed the former monk greatly for he was a reluctant schismatic. To the surprise of many, he had recently said this about the Catholic Church:

“With the papacy there is a correct Holy Scripture, a correct baptism, a correct sacrament of the altar, a correct key to the forgiveness of sin, a correct preaching office, a correct catechism, Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments and articles of faith” [note #2]

And Luther will have hoped that once Scripture had been translated into the vernacular and more widely distributed, dissenters from Rome would come to a unified view on the key doctrines such as the Eucharist, baptism and essential church polity. But it was not to be. What is more, through the movement Luther initiated, the vernacular Protestant Bible would soon come to replace the sacrifice of the altar as the focal object of veneration in most of the breakaway churches. That has desolating consequences from the perspective of those who understand that sacrament to be central to the Faith – the means by which one experiences interior sacred communion and sanctifying grace [previous thesis]. Desolating also in view of the way that Paul’s teaching would come to be further misunderstood by many. Augustine’s one-dimensional grace analysis with its dire providential implications was built upon and reinforced by the Reformers’ doctrine of total depravity and sovereign grace theology.

Luther’s legacy

In terms of Luther’s immediate legacy, the ecclesiological fragmentation and exacerbated national and global conflict challenges his claim to be prophetic. For if a prophet (and anyone who dares challenge the established ecclesiological order in such a way had better be one) can be shown by the outcome of his predictions to have spoken presumptuously, he is no longer to be feared or listened to (cf. the testing of prophets and prophecy – Deut18:18-22). What Luther had believed and expected would happen did not happen; that is that Christians in the West, liberated from the papacy and with Bibles in hand would come to a united understanding of the essentials of the gospel. ML was personally distraught at the breakaway movement’s sub-divisions even in his own day; let alone what he would have made of the bewildering plethora of denominations that exist today.

There is a good reason for such a disastrous miscalculation: the decidedly non-perspicuous nature of Holy Scripture. For, as referred to in my interim summary (previous post), he regarded ALL the earliest Church fathers with the possible exception of Augustine to be in darkness concerning the nature of saving faith. So the Reformer provided his own solution regarding justification, law and faith, which I spent a number of posts deconstructing .

The elephant in the room

As this thesis also alludes to, the proverbial elephant in the room within the usual Reformation debate has been the perennial Eastern Orthodox Church whose priority has always been to remain faithful to the deposit of faith. For she was a relatively stable element in the sixteenth century debacle, yet her sacerdotal practice has been much the same as Rome’s. Like her they accept the real presence of Christ at the altar, regarding the Eucharist as “the awesome sacrifice entrusted to the Church to be re-enacted and given to the faithful for the nourishment of their faith and forgiveness of their sins”. For God has ensured that that the Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation has been available to the faithful in East and West and for every generation of the Christian era – within the Apostolic churches, that is. And so for the purpose of the Re-formation, it is necessary to show that the Reformation was no reformation, rather an ecclesiastical hiatus and fragmentation. It is something from which we must recover if “the body of Christ is to be built up until we all reach unity in the Faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God to a perfect man, attaining the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph4:13).

יִצְחָ֔ק

NOTE #1 The birthname by which Augustinian monk Brother Martin would have been known at the time. He changed his surname to “Luther” to allude to “Eleuthérios” from the Greek Ελευθέριος, meaning free or liberated. Also, no doubt in view of what his family name “Luder” actually meant in his native language.

NOTE #2 – citation: Luthers Werke 26: 147 – Weimar: Hermann Bohlaus Nachfolge

THE LITTLE BOOK AND THE 95 THESES – INTERIM SUMMARY

This is a summary of the theological fundamentals and biblical interpretations set out in the two books that my website and Facebook page are promoting. It also acts as an interim summary with regard to the 95 related theses currently being posted on this and other platforms.

GOD’S SECRET PLAN

The catalyst for the radical reinterpretation of the bible being presented was an understanding (or rather I believe a revelation) concerning why Paul had unexpectedly been appointed as thirteenth faithful apostle [Matthias had replaced Judas as #12]. It was in order “to preach to the gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to enlighten all people regarding the secret plan which had been hidden in God from previous ages (Eph3:8-9). For that secret plan is something that no one appears to have discerned the providential and dispensational implications. Effectively it means that the current age is not a spiritualized fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy, but in terms of the salvation history outlined in the Law and Prophets is an inserted epoch. Paul tells us this came about to provoke God’s disbelieving chosen race to envy – by enlisting members of the Gentile nations into the messianic community (Rom11 vv11,12,15,30).

A CHANGE IN THE MESSIAH’S SUPPORTING CAST

It had long been prophesied that a coming Jewish Messiah would bring salvation to the world, but the supporting cast (Israel) who themselves had a salvific role to enact (Ex19:6; Deut4:6) had failed to fulfil God’s purposes for them. They were therefore to be replaced, or rather enhanced. That radically altered the timing for the establishment of God’s rule on earth. Observe how Paul subverts the OT prophecy concerning that rule: the feet are still beautiful but there is no longer a mention of God’s earthly rule which had been the focus of Isaiah’s proclamation [Rom10:15 vis-à-vis Is52:7]. Likewise, John the Baptist had warned of the wrath to come, and it is clear he meant pretty darn soon, for he believed it would impact the scribes and pharisees that he had scolded. And (more problematically for some), Jesus’s Olivet prophecies, especially Mt10:23 but all of them really: the Son of Man would NOT be returning in glory for a very long time. For God the Father, under whose personal authority such matters of timing are placed (Acts1:7), will have known the Jews would fail their mission, but also that in technological and intercommunicative terms the world was nowhere near ready 2000 years ago for what needed to be enacted in preparation for Christ’s rule on earth.  As the Romans11 references affirm (which in view of how the rest of the New Testament has been interpreted are not taken as read), it had not been anticipated (i.e. prophesied in the Old Testament) that non-Jews could be “saved” in the sense of being raised to eternal life in the current age, hence Peter and others’ surprise and confusion when they were (Acts11:17-18; 26:18).

THE REALLY GOOD NEWS

This dispensational shift, once comprehended, is wondrous news. The providential implications are glorious, especially with respect to the prospects for the many who do not, and unless spiritually aided cannot encounter the grace of Christ in the gospel. For let there be no dissembling: Jesus, Paul, John and Luke (in Acts) affirm that fallen man is incapable of coming to salvation in Christ unless fore ordained and divinely enabled to do so (e.g., Jn1:13 & 6:44; Rom8:29; Acts13:48). It is the Church, like Isaac who are the children of promise (Gal4:28). Ishmael, Isaac’s half-brother, though blessed by God and Abraham was excluded. Likewise today, for those who have been cleansed and regenerated through infant baptism, it will have been a matter of grace and election. Even for adult converts, faith in Christ “is not of oneself, it is a gift of God” (Eph2:8 cf. Acts13:48). Nor can these references to predestination be referring to God foreknowing who would accept the gospel, for that would be election based on merit. For nothing can be more meritorious than being prepared to give up one’s worldly ambitions to serve Christ. No, Paul is adamant that election is not based on merit, either actual or foreseen – and so was Jesus (Jn6:44). As I have been explaining, attaining the prize of final salvation and the rewards that go with it (co-heirship with Christ, no less) is another matter (e.g.,1Cor9:24). For to remain within the covenant of promise requires personal cooperation and active participation in the life of Christ (Rom5:10). One must suffer with Him if one is to be glorified with Him (Rom8:17).

CONTEXT OF THE CHURCH WITHIN BROADER PROVIDENCE

But such election/predestination does not determine who are the children of God (cf. Rom8:21) but who shall be THE FIRSTBORN of God’s human family. That is why the Church is described as “the assembly of the firstborn” (Heb12:23: “πρωτοτόκων” being plural – it is not referring to Christ but His people): the royal priesthood of God (1Pet2:9). And as just shown, these must potentially be prepared to give up everything in this life for the privilege (Mt16:24-25), affirming once again God’s sublime equity. He IS fair to all. That is something which can only be perceived applying a dual perspective interpretation on salvation (next paragraph). Otherwise one must either “go liberal”, rejecting the bible’s teaching on the matter altogether, or adopt the Protestant Reformers’ maxim, “Let God be God”, i.e. He may appear unjust and cruel to us but that is His prerogative. It is but He isn’t, and Paul has affirmed it – God is no respecter of persons but is fair and just to all (Rom2:6-16). That is a passage I once regarded as anomalous, but now I delight in it – it’s the rest of Romans I had failed to understand. It affirms the Creator’s thoroughly intelligible justice as Someone not only to fear but adore. Truly, we shall praise God with uprightness of heart once we have learnt of His righteous judgements.

CLARIFYING MATTHEW 25

Once the bifold nature of salvation has been identified, Paul can be taken at his word (especially in Romans 11). That is, that Gentiles would not have “been saved” in the current age if Israel had not failed its mission. But that would not have meant they would have had to proselytise or face perdition. The soul going to heaven or otherwise is rarely if ever what Paul is referring to, whereas Jesus clearly was making such a delineation in His parable of the sheep and goats (Mt25). But note, it is a passage where religion is not mentioned or even implied, merely that the “sheep” had exercised compassion and that Jesus regarded their help of the poor as service to Himself (v40).

For the Lord, as is sometimes the case with the Apostle John, is here distinguishing between those who are of God and those who are the children of the devil (1Jn3:10). Gospel salvation on the other hand relates to spiritual cleansing and empowering to relate to the Godhead whilst still in human flesh. Such is necessary for those who are to be most closely associated with Christ in the age to come. Such faithful disciples are also described as God’s elect: the firstborn of God’s human family and a kind of first fruit of the created order (James1:18). The rest (i.e., man by nature) Paul describes as being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph2:1). But the “death” to which Paul refers pertains not to the soul but to the procreated intellectual vessel that the spiritual/eternal part of us currently inhabits, preventing the soul from experiencing a cognisant relationship with God, our conscience becoming defiled by “dead works” (Heb9:14). The restoration of such a relationship is what the bible means by eternal life (Jn17:3 cf. 1Jn3:15 – note the present tense).

THE INNER CONFLICT

Relatedly, in one of the most crucial yet misunderstood passages in the New Testament, the apostle describes the vessel inhabited by the soul as “the body of THIS death” (Rom7:24 check Greek), for he is referring to the condition he had been describing in the preceding passage. That pertained to the inner conflict between the bodily senses processed through the brain (resulting in the aforementioned “dead works” and defiled conscience) and the nobler instincts of the inner man or spirit: “For I joyfully agree with the law of God in the inner man but I see a different law in the members of my body waging war against the law of my (spiritual) mind, making me a prisoner of the law of sin – that law which is in my body’s parts” (Rom7:22-23). That is affirming that it is not the God-given soul per se that is the source of mankind’s problem with sin but the procreated intellectual vessel (body and brain) with which it is associated whilst in mortal flesh.

This is MORE good news, given that is something temporal that prevents mankind from rightly relating to God and falling into sin, not that which is eternal (1Pet4:6 & 3:19-20; cf. Gen6:3 strictly YLT). Note from the Genesis verse, God’s reference to “My spirit” cannot be the Holy Spirit for the latter is not possessed by all men whereas a God-given spirit is (1Thes5:23), albeit the post-Augustinian Church teaches otherwise. God did mankind a favour by shortening his lifespan as recorded in Genesis, knowing that the spirit He provided would always contend and fail against the flesh (body and brain) whilst they were co-existent. At least that is the case for the many who would not respond to the gospel to partake of Christ’s body and blood and be raised to eternal life (Jn6:53).

HEAVEN AND THE NEED FOR THE OTHER PLACE

The events of Eden did not change God’s ultimate intentions towards those He had made in His image. He wanted them to “become like one of Us” (Gen3:22) – but not before they were ready. Satan persuaded Eve and Adam there was no need to wait. As a result of the fallout, it became necessary that man become re-accustomed to god and the things of God; likewise, the Word of God condescended to become accustomed to man through His incarnation. For the Christian, such divine pedagogy commences during earthly life through a living relationship with that same incarnate Word. But such reacquaintance with God and the things of God shall be required for all who are to play a positive role in the new heavens and earth where righteousness prevails, so for most the refamiliarization must continue after physical death (cf. 1Pet4:6). Depending on what one’s soul has become, the transformation required may be difficult and painful, but infinitely worth it, but for a few it will prove to be impossible – because they are unsaltable (below).

As a palliative to what I wrote in a recent post concerning the true Church and the eucharist, those who in their lifetime have worshipped Christ and sought to serve Him, regardless of their denominational allegiance, will clearly be at an advantage in respect of their citizenship of Christ’s Kingdom. As, to an extent, will all those of faith who fear the god of their understanding or cultural upbringing. Indeed, such allegiance will have been the only right and proper response to their consciences given their ignorance of the gospel (cf. Acts17:29-31KJV). It will have been a preparation for the worship and service of the true God, Son and Spirit. Likewise, everyone regardless of any religious faith at all, who in the language of second century Irenaeus, “attend to moral discipline” [Ref#1], “paying heed to the natural precepts of the law by which man can be justified” [Ref#2]. Regrettably for those of my former ilk, “imputed righteousness” will have no role to play. It is our soul that enters eternity in the state it is at death, or else it would not be our life. For “righteousness” or the lack of it is what we are or have become. It is our true self with which God wishes to relate and unite to Himself; He already relates to His Son.

HELL – A DIVINELY ORDERED ESTABLISHMENT

At this point it is helpful to refer to Jesus’ teaching in Mt5:22, carefully noting THE GRADATIONS.  “I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be answerable to the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be answerable to the Sanhedrin, whilst whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into hell fire”. This reflects the absurdity of traditional Western teaching on hell: It is never “all or nothing”. Nevertheless, for those whose misuse of their bodily members and senses has compromised the integrity of their soul (Mt5:29-30), Jesus affirms directly in the context of hell’s punishments that such must “be salted with fire, SALT BEING GOOD. However, “if the salt becomes unsaltable, how shall it be made salty again? Better to have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another” (Mk9:49-50).

Neither is hell administered by demons with pitchforks as depicted in some medieval paintings, but by God, His saints and angels (cf. Lk16:25 – it is strictly Hades but note the administrator and why Lazarus is being comforted – it has nothing to do with religion or having lived a sinless life). For, Jesus insists, everyone must be salted, if not in this life, then in the next (cf. Lk6:24-25). My book explains why this must be (ch.7). Your Church is unlikely to, for most have yet to grasp this mystery, yet it’s potentially the most wonderful news of all. Hell incorporates an element of punishment (for sure) and is best avoided. But for most attendees it is primarily a place of learning (the hard way), self-enlightenment, preparation and purification. For there is no distinction between the fires of hell and “purgatory” either in the bible or the writings of those who had received the Faith directly from the apostle.

In the worst cases, in view of what a few individuals have become in life (irredeemably corrupt), they could never still be themselves and exist within “new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells” that Peter sought after. It is best for such and everyone else that after due punishment they cease to exist. For they are “unsaltable, good for nothing, to be cast out and trodden under foot” (Mt5:13). God’s hatred of evil, proportional punishment and redistributive/compensatory justice are the outworking of his love, as all who possess the mind of Christ should discern. Such was third century Origen: “God confers benefits justly and punishes with kindness; since neither goodness without justice nor justice without goodness can display the real dignity of the divine nature” (Origen de Principiis Book II chap5 para 3).

HEAVEN’S REQUIREMENT

As already intimated, the souls of all people of good will (who already have salt in themselves), regardless of their faults and failings or any religious faith shall ultimately be accepted into God’s kingdom and have the joy of being reunited with those they have loved and lost. The Son of Man teaches that heaven’s requirement is simply to have possessed and practiced “agape”, being the essence of God Himself (Mt25:40; cf. 1Jn4:8). In other words (and this will confuse many but is explained in my post on the subject) the Mt25 “sheep” were justified BY FAITH working through love (Gal5:6).

THE DISCIPLES’ REQUIREMENT

However, Christian faith, obedience to the laws of Christ, self-discipline and attendance to the sacraments of Holy Church are required to be “saved to the uttermost”. That is to be fitted to become the corporate bride of Christ, even to share His throne (Rev3:21). This is for the proportionally few who are called, chosen and faithful. Like Paul they “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phi3:14). 😲What? “Did you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win” (1Cor9:24).

GOD’S SALVIFIC AGENDA

Yet the Creator has made it clear that He sent His Son to SAVE THE WORLD and desires that ALL would be soul-healed and come to a knowledge of the truth. He does not achieve that by despatching the bulk of humanity to a lost eternity for failing to do what we have already shown from Scripture they were incapable of doing. Being, like Paul, an athlete for Christ to attain to God is one thing; avoiding perdition by showing oneself to be truly human (Mt25) is another. EVERYTHING fits into place once this salvific distinction has been apprehended – and God is shown to be what He truly is: comprehensively and comprehensibly adorable.

WHAT ELSE?

There are yet more interpretative errors that God will have determined should be sustained until these very last days: an eluded covenant (Gen4); misunderstanding aspects of faith and justification; failure to distinguish “children of the devil” from “the unsaved”; the non-imputation of Adam’s guilt to his offspring… I could go on (and on). With respect to traditional systematized Western biblical theology, what I have effectively been saying is “rip it up and start again”. Except there is no need – the task has already been completed and set out in The Little Book of Providence, albeit with about as much erudition as this retired London bus driver (aka “Charton” – Note#1) could be expected to muster. Yet the book’s ability to enable scripture to cohere is, I believe, unprecedented. For knowing myself and my own limitations I am convinced it is the work of God and the fulfilment of prophecy. That such a process as this should occur at all is more explicitly intimated in the Book of Enoch – extra-canonical scripture written to be a blessing to the final generation of Christians, as its opening verse declares.

LESS RADICAL THAN LUTHER

I sense what many might be thinking (🤣 or 😒) but what Luther and the Reformers proposed and implemented 500 years ago was far more radical than this. Their “rip it up and start again” approach applied not only to doctrine but to the universal Church – the very body of Christ. Not only that, but in view of the traditional dualistic interpretation of biblical salvation they shared with the medieval Catholic Church, Protestants were effectively saying that what was required of men and women to escape eternal torment had been largely unknown and untaught by the churches for the previous thousand or more years. And for the first 28 years of my Christian life I, albeit unwittingly, went along with this travesty. I now know it to be an extraordinary affront on our loving Heavenly Father’s providential care of humanity and Christ’s stewardship of His people through the centuries. Yet I in the past and Evangelicals today are typically oblivious to the implications of their founders’ assertions. For many are simply not au fait with the earliest Fathers’ writings, nor aware of Luther’s preposterous proposal that those men, some of whom had been directly tutored by the apostles, could uniformly have been in darkness concerning the essentials of saving faith [Quotation below].

I on the other hand have made it clear throughout that a true Church has always existed, albeit divided for the last 1000 years into East (Orthodox) and West (Catholic). Each has provided everything necessary (and some more besides) for fulness of salvation. What has been lacking, more particularly in the West, apart from the vital contribution of the many sincere believers in Christ who became Evangelical) is nevertheless radical, indeed almost laughable “(יִצְחָ֔ק)” [note#1]. That is a right understanding of what humanity is intended to be saved from: not the pollution of an intrinsically corrupted soul but the moral degeneracy of the temporary intellectual vessel it inhabits (cf. Rom7:24). And what salvation is for: not to escape a wrathful God’s predisposition to condemn imperfect souls to hell, but to partake of the divine nature whilst still in mortal flesh (proto-theosis). That is so that those predestined to the role are fitted for immediate participation in Christ’s rule in the age to come.

PREMILLENNIALISM – PREVALENT WITHIN THE EARLY CHURCH

As Wikipedia affirms [Link#2] such a premillennial perspective was the prevailing understanding of the early Church. The first notable opposition was from Marcion, a heretic who rejected the incarnation of Christ and the canonicity of the Old Testament. More significantly, third century Origen came openly to oppose the doctrine, having an over-spiritualized perspective on events relating to the second coming of Christ. Still more influential was Augustine’s change of mind on the subject. That typically ensured the doctrine was dropped by the Church thereafter. For as a leading Anglican scholar in the wiki article rightly observed, all medieval theology is essentially Augustinian – and the Protestant Reformers built on it. [If Augustine got it wrong, we are all in trouble, so here we all are]. Apart from the witness of those early premillennialists who had most immediately received the Faith from the apostles, my opening point concerning God’s secret plan (the inserted epoch) reinforces the rationale for a terrestrial age to follow the current one.

Unlike the separated assemblies, the true Church (East and West) has not been guilty of implicitly trashing Christ’s historical care and oversight of the very people He regards as His OWN FLESH AND BONES (Eph5:30KJV). But largely in view of her incomplete understanding of salvation’s nature and purpose, the Apostolic Church since the time the biblical canon was finalized and its doctrine systematized around the 4th/5th century, has (to put it mildly) failed to do justice to God’s munificence. Hence “The Little Book” (link#1) – sweet to the taste but likely to create bitterness in the abdomen (Greek: koilos) through that which had previously been assimilated, once God’s magnanimous providence has been ingested (Rev10:10). For in terms of the Catholic Church, it was not until the 1960s Vatican II’s “Lumen Gentium” that God’s broader benign providence towards “people of good will” was articulated at the conciliar level. But in this former Evangelical’s estimation, such broader benign providence has not been adequately underpinned from Scripture. Nor could it be without deconstructing much Augustinian-derived theology – a matter I have been attending to since I was made aware of these truths.

WAITING AND PRAYING – FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

Having begun my 50+ year Christian journey from a diametrically opposite position, I was made aware after my first spiritual encounter in the middle of training for the Baptist ministry (1998), that the Church at Rome is the assembly whose bishop is intended to be primus inter pares for the whole Church militant – the one with whom every Christian assembly should ideally be incorporated or affiliated. That is “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ when we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph4:12-13).

But as I have been intimating, that cannot occur until all assemblies, Rome included (and to a lesser extent the Greek Church) acknowledge substantial doctrinal error – summarized in my 95 theses and set out in full in The Little Book of Providence [Link#3]. Clearly such an acknowledgement would only be forthcoming if it became widely recognized that I, though a spiritual and intellectual pygmy, am in accordance with God’s good humour, an instrument for this purpose (Mt11:25; cf. Rev10:7). That is why I earnestly pray for YOU, the reader. For if the Spirit affirms in your mind and conscience that I write the truth, you could have a pivotal role to play in taking the matter forward, especially if you have any personal influence yourself as a priest/pastor/leader/writer or have an association with those who do. I have planted, others may water but only God can bring forth the increase.

ANNOTATIONS

REF#1:  Irenaeus against heresies Book III chap. 25 (para 1)

REF#2:  Ibid. Book IV chap. 13 para 1

NOTE #1:  These are two of the three names by which I was addressed in the recording referred to in my “Mystery Acoustics post” (Link#3). יִצְחָ֔ק (Yitshak) aka Isaac, denotes one who laughs (or is laughed at), whilst “Charton” is an obscure surname denoting a carter or coachman (in modern times a busman). According to sources I have identified on internet, the Hebrew and English names are linked. The third personal address I received on the recording is still more extraordinary, being my birth-name “Richard”, for the one who I am sure uttered it is no longer with us.

LINK#1   Free PDF download of The Little Book of Providence:  https://richard777.blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/HERE.pdf

LINK#2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premillennialism

LINK#3 https://richard777.blog/2022/02/27/acoustic-mystery-on-a-32-bus/

LUTHER’S QUOTE:

“OF THE FATHERS OF THE CHURCH”

Behold what great darkness is in the books of the Fathers concerning faith; yet if the article of justification be darkened it is impossible to smother the grossest error of mankind… Augustine wrote nothing to the purpose concerning faith for he was first roused up and made a man by the Pelagians, in striving against them. I can find no exposition upon the Epistles to the Romans or Galatians where anything is taught pure and aright. Oh, what a happy time have we now in regard to the purity of the doctrine, but alas we little esteem it.[1] 

[1] Martin Luther “Table Talk” #DXXX Marshall Montgomery Collection


 

THE EUCHARIST – OUR SANCTIFICATION

eucharist
Thesis # 63 of 95 – The vital means for communicating spiritual renewal and ongoing sanctification is through the sacraments of the Church.

Thesis #64 of 95- An essential component of the Christian life is participation in the Divine Eucharist.

 Thesis #65 of 95- The Lord has ensured throughout the Church's history that faithful assemblies in East and West are gathered to Himself, so that from the rising of the sun until its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to His name.

Thesis #66 of 95 -  In some meaningful albeit mystical sense Christ's body must be eaten and His blood drunk by the Christian for “whoever eats Me will draw life from me" and "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person"

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Rom8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers 

Jn6:53-56 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood possesses eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him.

COMMENTS

Through what I have been shown (by the Spirit I believe) even the true Church has propagated substantial doctrinal error through the centuries. Such I also believe was foretold in the Book of Enoch’s Apocalypse of Weeks, as my linked post explains. Despite such fallibility, both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches (divided since the 1054 schism) and those episcopal churches affiliated to them have been enabled to fulfil their primary salvific obligations. For the Lord “has never ceased to gather a people to Himself so that from the rising of the sun until its setting a pure sacrifice is offered to His name”. As universal sacrament for the world, the Apostolic Church, East and West has ensured that the fullness of sacramental provision necessary for gospel salvation (sometimes with more besides) has been provided in each century for every generation of the Christian era, such that those appointed to eternal life (Acts13:48) might be supplied for divine service now and in the ages to come.

The 95 theses taken as a whole affirm that everyone who responds positively to conscience demonstrate themselves to be “of God” as opposed to being like Cain “of the Wicked One” (1Jn3:11-12). However, atheists, agnostics and those of other faiths cannot be presented “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jud1:24). That requires one to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and a partaker of Jesus Christ in order to become conformed to His image (Rom8:29). To do so one must draw on His spiritual life-force by (in some meaningful sense) eating His flesh and drinking His blood, for “whoever eats Me will draw life from Me (Jn6:57).

The eucharist – our sanctification

Receiving this Sacrament might be likened to the body’s blood flowing through the heart and being renewed and cleansed by it: spiritual life is renewed and refreshed by participation in the Eucharist. Yet it is no mechanical process even for those regularly attending this means of grace. Faith is required just as it was when Jesus was physically present on earth by those who would be healed by Him. The pupil of the apostle John (Ignatius) affirmed this Sacrament to be the medicine of immortality. Yet it is more than a salve it is a Saviour (i.e. a Person). The Eucharistic meal possesses the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, not through the magic of a priest but by the Holy Spirit imprecated by him. One must have faith to regard it as such if one is fully to benefit from its transforming power for one is not merely receiving medicine for the soul but a Person to relate to it. 

Of course, many sincere believers in Christ will not accept such teaching regarding the Eucharist/Mass/Divine Liturgy/Lord’s Supper. For the first 28 years of my Christian life, I did not either. Key to the change in my understanding was a study of the Early Church Fathers, i.e. the teaching and observations of those who had been tutored by the apostles themselves or the likes of Timothy, Jude, Philemon or the men they personally tutored (which takes us into the early to middle second century). I reviewed their writings on the subject in an earlier post. This is reinforced by the witness of Irenaeus and Church historian Eusebius, the former theologian in particular witnessing to the unity of liturgy within the churches of the second century.   

Although I cannot be certain how the Lord will at last deal with those who have sought to be faithful to Him but are genuinely ignorant of these matters, These four related theses testify to the assertion there is no salvation outside the Apostolic Church (as defined above). But as the previous post/thesis delineated, by “salvation” I mean SALVATION: those to whom Paul refers as heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, who suffer with Him that they might be also glorified with Him (Rom8:17); those who are seeking to attain the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phi3:14). That does not equate to who does or does not go to heaven when they die, which has more to do with the final judgement parable in Mt25. However the issue under consideration does determine whether or not one can attain an inheritance reserved for those who are sanctified (Acts20:32).

[יִצְחָ֔ק] Author’s FACEBOOK page HERE

WHAT SALVATION MEANS

THESIS #62 of 95 - Biblical salvation is the restoration of divine communion whilst still incarnate through spiritual regeneration and devotion to Christ and His teaching. This is what is meant by being raised to eternal life. It is for fallen man to become re-acquainted with God, His Son and Spirit before physical death (or Christ’s return) so that the called chosen and faithful may be fitted for future glory as the corporate Bride of Christ.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Jn17:3 THIS is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent

Jn6:53 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves

Rom7:24-25 Wretched man that I am! Who will SET ME FREE FROM THE BODY OF THIS DEATH? Thanks be to God; it is through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I with my mind serve the law of God, but with my flesh the law of sin

Rom8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters

Rev19:7 Let’s rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has prepared herself

Rev3:21 The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.

1Thes4:4- That each of you know how to POSSESS HIS OWN VESSEL in sanctification and honour

Rom8:23  Also we who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for adoption as sons, namely THE REDEMPTION OF OUR BODY!!!

COMMENTS

The last few theses have identified what gospel salvation is not, i.e., the means by which a soul can enter heaven. This thesis defines what salvation in Christ really is. The selected texts indicate what such salvation is from, what it is for, and why proportionally few shall attain it. Also, how such a limitation is to be reconciled with Paul’s assertion that God desires that all people are ultimately soul-healed and come to a knowledge of the truth. And let’s face it, such broader benevolence is what one would expect to be the intention of the One whom the apostle John defines as Love personified.

SALVATION FROM WHAT?

In terms of what people are to be saved from, as just stated it is not “eternal damnation”. That in part is in view of the temporal nature of the problem from which we need to be delivered in order to fulfil our eternal destiny. In the case of the elect that is co-heirship with Jesus Christ, no less – to be His corporate bride in the ages to come (Rom8:17; Rev3:21; Rev19:7). It should be evident from that statement and its supporting texts why this is likely to be the preserve of the proportional few.

More precisely, what the elect, in fact all of us at some point, need to be delivered from is the physical transience and moral ineptitude of the procreated intellectual vessel every soul enters at birth. By “procreated intellectual vessel” I simply refer to the body and brain – the part of us that ceases to function when we die. The Apostle Paul refers to that same entity quite literally as “the flesh”, distinguishing it from our eternal spiritual essence that returns to God at brain death to await re-embodiment. The apostle also employs the term “body of this death” (Rom7:24) and “vessel” (2Cor4:7; 1Thes4:4). Approaching his death, the apostle Peter refers to the same as the “tent” or “tabernacle” that he must shortly set aside (2Pet1:13+14). The key point being it is a temporary feature of our never-ending existence that is the source of our problem with sin, as Paul’s usually misunderstood passage in Rom7 makes clear (vv14-25).

One reason that passage is so often misunderstood is because the human spirit to which Paul refers (which he is simply and literally distinguishing from the fleshly body and brain) is often deemed by translators and interpreters to be referring to the Holy Spirit. This is a matter I have worked through at some length in earlier posts, attaining support for the case from the Textus Receptus Greek [note 1].

SALVATION’S PURPOSE

In terms of the purpose of gospel salvation, only those who have a personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ can be saved from Paul’s “body of this death” whilst still inhabiting it (Rom7:24,25). The rest will not escape its moral/spiritual and physical incumbrances (being the consequence of the Fall) until physical death. However, the problem post-mortem for those who fail to apprehend the gospel is that unless they die in infancy their vessel/tent that their souls inhabit is, through its innate concupiscence, likely to tarnish the spiritual essence it houses (1Pet2:11). Such a soul will be in no position to be “presented faultless before the presence of God’s glory with exceeding joy” (Jude1:24). Indeed, in some cases it will require a measure of salting/purging if it is to take any positive role in “a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2Pet3:13).

God’s elect on the other hand, being the called, chosen and faithful, having been empowered by the Holy Spirit and informed by divine teaching, should have disciplined themselves to follow the inclinations of their spirit rather than succumbing to the flesh so that they might be raised to eternal Life (Rom8:13). Partaking sacramentally in the Lord’s body and blood, their “consciences are purged from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb9:14; cf. 1Jn1:7). The generations of saints who have died shall be raised on the last day (Jn6:54; Rev20:6). They, together with faithful disciples who live to see the Parousia shall “meet Christ in the air” (1Thes4:17). Whether alive or resurrected, their souls will have been ready prepared for the unspeakable glories destined for the elect in the ages to come.

THE FRUIT OF CHRIST’S PASSION

As the previous post/thesis affirmed, divine grace and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ are the core elements of all human salvation. Yet the benefits of Christ’s Passion  function at two levels: forensic and participatory. The former relates to God’s pardon of and propitiation for human sin throughout the world (1Jn2:2); the latter to the sanctification and imparting of spiritual vitality to the proportionally few who sacramentally partake of Christ’s body and blood (Jn6:53).

This is merely the bare bones of what I have been shown on this subject. Such a thesis pertaining to the very nature and purpose of gospel salvation needs to be supported by a workable synopsis of the whole bible. Thanks be to God, it has been.

[יִצְחָ֔ק]

NOTE #1 – For example, Rom8:4 – “The requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit”. The early scribes who penned the Textus Receptus knew Paul to be referring to the human spirit not the Holy Spirit, hence they wrote πνεῦμα rather than Πνεύμα [Rom8:4 Greek – ignore the  translation, observe the Greek text; Likewise Rom8:1]. When Paul is clearly referring to the Holy Spirit, the scribes have penned Πνεύμα [e.g. 1Cor12:3].

It should be pointed out that the original New Testament text was written entirely in capital letters with no spaces or punctuation. So, whether the Greek word for “spirit” was a capital or lowercase Pi is a scribe-based rather than genuinely textually based issue. But the point is that my interpretation is in line with that of the early scribes with regard to whether Paul is referring to the Holy Spirit or the human spirit, a matter critical to a right understanding of Paul’s teaching on salvation and the believers’ participation within it.

.

Author’s FACEBOOK page HERE

PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL

People of good will
Thesis #59 of 95 - All people of good will shall go to heaven when they die regardless of their religious beliefs.
 Thesis #60 of 95 - The notion implicit in some Roman Catholic teaching that people of good will are “saved” in the same sense as a Christian undermines the role of the gospel, Church and sacraments.
Thesis #61 of 95 - For the incarnated soul cannot be healed (saved) unless Christ had first been admitted to the vessel and united with the spirit.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Mt5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”

Mt25:40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.’

Mt10:41 The one who  receives a righteous person in the name of a righteous person shall receive a righteous person’s reward

Jn18:37 “For this purpose I have been born, and for this I have come into the world: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.

1Cor6:17 The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him

Jn6:53 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves

Rom7:24-25 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God; it is through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I with my mind serve the law of God, but with my flesh the law of sin

COMMENTS

In many Christian minds, especially those of my former (Evangelical) ilk, people are either “saved” or “reprobate”. Since Vatican II (1960s), the Catholic Church has formally acknowledged a third soteriological category, namely “people of good will”. More dogmatically, “Divine providence shall not deny the assistance necessary for salvation to those who without any fault of theirs have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and who, not without grace, strive to lead a good life” (Vatican II – Lumen Gentium 16).

What has been lacking for the last fifty years from the Catholic side is a substantive biblical underpinning for such a proposition. For that cannot be provided without substantial doctrinal deconstruction resulting in contradicting earlier conciliar pronouncements that the Church deems to be immutable. But the main problem with Vatican II’s pronouncement as it stands is stated in thesis #60. It undermines the role of the Church and sacraments, which are indispensable for what the bible actually means by “salvation”.

To whom such “people of good will” refers is defined from Scripture in The Little Book of Providence.  As is the case for the Christian, their eventual deliverance from the bondage of sin so as to be united to God will have been made possible by divine grace and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, for these are the core elements of all human salvation.

What is more, whether they realize it or not, such people are contributing even now to the building of God’s Kingdom on earth. For, as Jesus Himself indicated, anyone who seeks to reconcile and bring peace between nations, families or individuals is acting like a child of God (Mt5:9). Anyone who contributes to alleviating the plight of the poor and needy will be judged as having succoured Christ Himself (Mt25:40). Any who accept and acknowledge a righteous person as righteous is himself regarded as righteous (Mt10:41).  Those who pursue truth and justice for its own sake show themselves to be of the Truth (Jn18:37b). Indeed, anyone who desires from the heart to do anything good and acts upon it is demonstrating they will one day adore Jesus Christ, the summit and perfection of all that is good.

Yet by no means are all these good people “saved” in the gospel sense, as the next thesis/post shall explain. In the meantime, Rom7:24-25 summarizes what “salvation” really is about. And it is far removed from most Christians’ understanding that gospel salvation determines whether or not one goes to heaven when one dies.

Author’s FACEBOOK page HERE

LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY

Thesis #58 of 95 - The more liberal churches are in error in believing that anyone other than a Christian can be saved in the gospel sense

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Acts4:12 There is salvation in no Other; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we can be saved.

Rom1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, also to the Greek.

Mt24:14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come

Dan7:27a Then shall sovereignty, dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven be given to the saints of the Most High

Acts20:32 I entrust you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified

Rom8:17 WE are children of God, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

COMMENTS

Many Christians, labelled as liberals, are understandably resistant to the derisory, narrow depictions of God’s providential care for humanity that is the outworking of the prevailing Augustinian-derived biblical theology. Such people have a sense of God’s goodness and intelligible justice and anticipate that providential outcomes will be consistent with His self-declared loving nature. And so they shall be.

But what tends to be lacking on the part of such liberal, open-minded Christians is a substantive delineation of their convictions from Scripture. They are “liberal” with respect to their interpretation of the bible, believing they have to be, given how it is usually interpreted. Not so yours truly – I would sooner be labelled a literalist 😂. For humanly speaking, such is how the seemingly radical synopsis I have set out in the Little Book of Providence came about – by applying a rigorous and highly literal interpretation to the Word of God

And surely, a trustworthy approach to Scripture is needed to provide at the personal level the peace and assurance that comes from a hope for eternity that is solidly grounded. Whilst at the global level, a unified interpretation of the essential teachings of Scripture are necessary to present a clear and coherent Good News message to the world. And such is to be provided in these last days if the gospel and its Hero are to be believed (Mt24:14). 

As recent theses have sought to delineate – whilst the Creator desires that all true humanity (cf. 1Jn3:12) are ultimately soul-healed (“saved”) and brought to an understanding of the truth (1Tim2:4), only those who know Jesus Christ in a personal way during their earthly lifetimes can be fitted to share an inheritance with Christ, His saints and angels. As the above references indicate, such an inheritance (co-heirship with Christ, no less😲) is restricted to those who are being sanctified (Acts20:32; Rom8:17)

Author’s FACEBOOK page HERE

WHO GOES TO HEAVEN?

heaven
THESIS #57 of 95 - For much of their history the churches especially in the West have been under the misapprehension that their institution and the practice of the Christian faith primarily exists to enable people to go to heaven when they die

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Mt25:34-35 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink etc, etc.

Mt16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works

Rom2:9-11 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of mankind who does evil, for the Jew first, also for the Greek, but glory, honour and peace to everyone who does what is good, to the Jew first, also to the Greek.  For there is no partiality with God.

However:

Rom8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers

1Pet2:9 You are a CHOSEN PEOPLE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light

Rev19:7 The marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has prepared herself.”

Rev3:21 He who overcomes, I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.

Rev5:9-10 And with Your blood you bought people for God of every race, language, people and nation and made them a line of kings and priests for God, to rule the World

COMMENTS

A collection of prooftexts such as the above cannot do justice to a thesis as radical as this. What is needed is a complete re-synopsis of the bible, and this (I am clear with the Spirit’s help) I have already provided [link#1]. What the first four texts point to is the fact that ultimately, we are to be judged by what we do, not what we claim or understand ourselves to believe. Yet what we do and our manner of life is GOVERNED by what we believe, or more particularly whether we possess “faith”. Note that Paul writes “AS IT IS WRITTEN, ‘the righteous shall live by faith’” But WHERE was it written? In Habakkuk2:4. The apostle was not introducing a new-fangled concept of justification by faith – it had always been the case. What WAS new in terms of Paul’s revelation concerned the annulment of Torah.

Hence Gal5:6 – “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but FAITH WORKING THROUGH LOVE. As 2nd century Clement of Alexandria rightly asserted “faith is that which OF ITSELF AND FROM ITS OWN RESOURCES chooses at once what is best”. That is why the Mt25 sheep acted as they did – because they possessed and utilized the God-given quality of faith. Likewise, those who “do what is good” in the Romans 2 passage quoted. This is not how I in the past and no doubt many Christians today understand “faith”. But interpreted in this way, it resolves many tensions or seeming contradictions of scripture – not least the moral and juridical teaching of Paul vis-à-vis Jesus, James and John.

The latter five bible references, which to some may seem to be saying something different again (hence the “however”), pertain to the fact that whilst God cares for the wellbeing of all people of good will, He has chosen a particular people for Himself who are to be permanently associated with His Son. Only these are what the bible refers to as “saved” in the present age. Only these currently possess the Life God intends for those he has made in His own image.

Some recent theses dealt with what the bible means by “death” in the spiritual context. In a sentence it is a disruption in the soul’s communion with its Maker resulting from a defilement of the conscience (cf. Heb9:14). It is a result of the Fall.

The immediate cause of such is what Paul describes as “the body of this death” and the solution is a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ (Rom7:24,25). THAT is what Christianity is for. It is for those Peter goes on to describe as a “royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for GOD’S PERSONAL POSSESSION“. In terms of what happens at the end of physical life, Christians are being prepared for something that others cannot be. True disciples are being refashioned into the image of their Master (Rom8:29). They already partake of the divine nature (2Pet1:4) – a clue to their ultimate destiny, as are the quotes above from Revelation.

ETERNAL LIFE

Expressed another way, becoming a Christian enables one to be raised to eternal life. That in turn relates to being re-united to God in Christ:

“And this is eternal life, that they might know You the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (Jn17:3)

And:

 “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has (present tense) eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day(Jn6:54)

And:

“No murderer has eternal life abiding in him(1Jn3:15)

Eternal life (literally age-life) is something to be experienced now; a higher form and quality of life than that which one can naturally know as fallen human beings. It should be noted that even the sinless Saviour asserted that He “lived by the Father” (Jn6:57a). In the same way “those who eat Me shall live by Me (Jn6:57b). It affirms that “life” as Jesus, Paul and others speak of it does not refer to avoiding perdition or “going to heaven when you die” for that was hardly an issue for Jesus, yet even He “lived by the Father”. It relates rather to a present empowering relationship with the divine; “death” being the deprivation of such.

LOVE ACTUALLY

So much for the Christian – what of everyone else? The definitive New Testament passage on final judgement (Mt25) should make it clear enough that whether or not one gains admittance to God’s eternal Kingdom is not determined by religious faith or practice. That is not so much as mentioned, merely the exercise of compassionate LOVE towards those in need – with whom Christ as Son of Man personally identifies. That in turn pertains to natural law – whether one has a positive response to the innate spiritual faculties with which everyone is provided, functioning through the conscience. For everyone who is truly humane shows themselves to be of God (1Jn4:7).

THE SAVED

But only those who have a personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ can be saved from what Paul described as the body of this death (Rom7:24,25). Empowered by the Holy Spirit, they follow the inclinations of their spirit rather than succumbing to the flesh – so that they might Live (Rom8:13 Textus Receptus Greek). Partaking of the Lord’s body and blood, their “consciences are purged from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb9:14; cf. 1Jn1:7). Such are to be raised on the last day (Jn6:54; Rev20:6). Those of the faithful still alive at the Parousia shall be joined to Christ (1Thes4:17). Whether alive or resurrected, the souls of such will have been made ready for the unspeakable glories destined for them in the age to come.

Such is the context of the Church and Christian salvation within broader benign providence. God’s declared wish is that every soul that CAN be healed is ultimately restored and brought to a realization of the truth (1Tim2:4). It is perhaps not that surprising that God does not intend that all humanity are betrothed to His Son and come to share His throne (Rev3:21 &9:7). But many more shall one day comprehend WITH the saints what is the width and length and height and depth of the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. Each to be filled, according to their varying capacities, with the fullness of God.

יִצְחָ֔ק

Link#1 -Free PDF download of The Little Book of Providence:  https://richard777.blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/HERE.pdf

Author’s FACEBOOK page HERE

WHY ISAIAH’S FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS PROPHECY HAS BEEN SUBVERTED

Handel -composer of Messiah

“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.  Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that HER INIQUITY IS PARDONED: for SHE HATH RECEIVED OF THE LORD’S HAND DOUBLE FOR ALL HER SINS.  The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God”.  Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:  And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it  (Is40:1-5KJV)

 Georg Friedrich Handel (pictured) was on the whole creditably faithful to the (KJV) scriptural narrative within his much-loved Christmas musical offering. Such subtle changes as he did make would have been for metrical scanning purposes; but not, I suspect, the omission of the phrase I have capitalized within the prophecy he was quoting from Isaiah (above). That had asserted that God’s chosen nation’s many iniquities were now pardoned, for she had already received double (punishment) for her sins; a statement which should make it clear enough that “Jerusalem” could not in this context have been an allegory for the future universal Church; “Jerusalem” was Jerusalem, city of the great king (David), the heart of the Jewish nation.  That nation had been punished severely but now she was to be forgiven; and that was the context of “the voice of one crying in the wilderness”, the “Elijah” (John Baptist) who was promised to restore everything (Mt17:11) was on his way to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the good sense of the upright, preparing for the Lord a people fit for Him (Lk1:17NJB); the Arch-Angel Gabriel (no less) had promised as much in John’s annunciation.  According to such prophecy all would soon be well for Israel (God’s servant cf. Is49:3, Acts13:47), and the whole world would witness it – “all flesh would see it TOGETHER.

AS WITH OTHER OT PROPHECY, IT SIMPLY HAS NOT PANNED OUT THAT WAY – in terms of timing, sequence and personnel that is. But “the mouth of the Lord has spoken it” and He will not go back on His promises. As Paul addressed the matter, though many of his fellow Jews were hostile to the gospel of Christ they were still elect for the sake of their fathers: “there is no change of mind on God’s part concerning the GIFTS HE HAS MADE OR OF HIS CHOICE” (Rom11:28-29 NJB). No change of Mind,  but there has been a change to the published Plan, and Saul of Tarsus was chosen by God’s grace and commissioned by the glorified Christ to proclaim it (Acts26:17-18), along with the other twelve apostles once they had grasped what was going on (Acts11:5-9;17-18), namely that many Gentiles were also to gain a glorious inheritance with God’s holy people (26:18b) through the establishment of the  fellowship pertaining to “a secret (plan) hidden in God (the Father) who had created all things through Jesus Christ. That THROUGH the Church should NOW be revealed TO the sovereignties and authorities of Heaven, the multi-faceted nature of God’s wisdom according to (His) purposes for the ages” (cf. Eph3:8-11 from the Greek).

The apostle to the Gentiles would not wish us to be ignorant of this mystery so as to become wise in our own conceits – that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the complement of the Gentiles has come in. Once the Church fully recognises and acknowledges her error regarding “replacement theology”, indeed her understanding of the very nature and purpose of the current epoch within the overall framework of salvation history🤣.

Then also might the Jews, being her fathers in the faith acknowledge their reprehensible rejection of the Son of Man – once, that is, they grasp along with the Church why the terrestrial promises of the Law and Prophets were not fulfilled through Him and by Him at the expected time. It would seem the Lord has concluded both fathers and children in ignorance in this matter so that he might enlighten and show mercy to both (cf. Rom11:32). No wonder Paul went on in the next verse to exclaim “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How inscrutable is His decision-making and His ways are quite beyond our discovery!” Even two millennia of erudite ecclesiological scholarship has scarcely perceived these matters whereas the Spirit holds no such bounds but works as, when and with whom he so chooses.

יִצְחָ֔ק

Free PDF download of The Little Book of Providence:  https://richard777.blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/HERE.pdf

Illustration: portrait of G F Handel (courtesy Wikipedia)

DIVINE THEOLOGY

YHWH
THESIS #56 of 95 - God's qualities such as love, holiness, compassion and kindness are superior in degree but the same in nature to those of man's, for every good quality man possesses originates from Him

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Heb1:3a (Christ) is the radiance of God’s glory and the EXACT REPRESENTATION of His nature

1Jn4:7: Beloved, let’s love one another; for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God

COMMENTS

“I AM who I am: the God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in faithful love and constancy, maintaining his faithful love to thousands, forgiving fault crime and sin, yet letting nothing go unchecked, punishing the parent’s fault in the children and in the grandchildren unto the third and fourth generation [Ex34:6-7].

That is God’s nature; these are His judgements which are evidently right and just and in accordance with human reason. That is, they are exactly how one would expect a loving and just God to behave in judgement. There surely can be no better theologian than God Himself, so if anyone has presented a markedly different picture, he is no theologian at all however revered he may have become. We may be mystified by God’s ways at times, but this is a Being that we as human beings can truly love and adore as well as fear. Not just for His grace and mercy towards us, but because He is genuinely good from the perspective of those created after His own likeness.

YHWH is forgiving, tender and compassionate just as a saintly human is consistently tender and compassionate, only more so. Like a good parent He will have a special affection for His own (or His Son’s) immediate family but will show magnanimity towards all, for that is His nature. As such He makes full allowance for the human weakness unavoidably inherited at birth; toleration being a vital ingredient of love as any parent will know. At the same time, He will take vengeance on behalf of His people (2Thes1:6), being all who fear Him and seek to do justice in accordance with the revelation they have received from Him. And in John’s words, everyone who loves is born of God and knows God – but not all do (1Jn3:12; Mt15:13).

Truly, we shall praise God with uprightness of heart when we have learnt of His righteous judgements [ יִצְחָ֔ק].

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GOD IS LOVE?

God is love
THESIS #55 of 95. GOD IS LOVE, and any theology that requires for its intrinsic coherence the notion that divine love is different in nature and outworking to that quality as it is defined in Scripture should be rejected, however revered its formulator may have been

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

1Jn4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love [Greek: θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν]

1Cor13:4-5 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant.  It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered

COMMENTS

These theses are intended to follow on from one another and the assertion that God is love is a corollary to what was asserted in the previous thesis: the fact that Jesus precisely represented His father’s nature (Heb1:3). But the apostle John was not merely saying in his first epistle that God possessed love or even that He is loving by nature, but that He is love personified [ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν]; ἀγάπη (love) being a noun, not an adjective. This is astonishing in itself; all the more so when one tries to reconcile that with the God of the bible, or rather what many understand it to be saying concerning the Creator’s providential purposes and intentions towards humanity. As I am in the process of demonstrating, that is because so many are under a misconception. They believe that only the relative few who have had a faithful account of the Gospel and have positively responded to it are to avoid perdition. Most of the remaining theses directly or indirectly point to why such is not the case.

Another reason John’s statement will appear barely credible to many pertains to what I also referred to in the previous thesis. That is that whilst God’s nature is humanly comprehensible and was reflected in life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the Creator’s ways are often incomprehensible and extraordinary. That will be evident in any consideration of history [which is ultimately “His story”]. Not least, the career of the churches, but especially the global suffering, distress and confusion we continue to observe today. My theses and especially The Little Book of Providence’s theodicy explain why this is the case. It pertains to God’s plans for humanity, starting with His elect – the children of promise (Gal4:28) who in some measure must share in the sufferings of Christ (Rom8:17).

Any loving deity of human devising might be expected to ensure that those he/she/it created had opportunity to enjoy a peaceful, happy life, ideally extending through eternity. Truly, the God who is love, revealed in the bible, has done far, far better than this. He has not only created beings in His own image, but by the very suffering and trials they experience whilst in mortal flesh, He is preparing them to be united Himself and ultimately share His domain. But it is not just our suffering that He knows is necessary for such elevation (even in the case of His Son: Heb2:10), it involves His own suffering also. Quoting from my book:

“God had been perfectly entitled to enjoy unbroken felicity but for mankind’s sake He was prepared to endure the agony of observing His only begotten Son’s humiliation and death. If Satan had been barred from planet earth or Adam and Eve had been erased for their disobedience and replaced, Christ need not have died. But He permitted His enemy what appeared to be an extraordinary victory for the sake of what He knew would be the ideal preparation for the beings created in His image to be raised from dust to glory. This is the third reason apart from Satan’s treachery and our first parents’ disobedience that things have been as they have been in the world and in the Church. Suffering partnered with essential spiritual healing and progressive enlightenment are how God is drawing man toward his ultimate destiny as exemplified by His Son’s own experience (cf. Heb2:10)”.

[Excerpt from chapter 7 (theodicy) – Little Book of Providence]

In accordance with the progressive enlightenment just outlined, much traditional Western theology simply does not do justice to such Love as this. There has inevitably been bemusement regarding the continuance of evil and suffering, falling as it does under the auspices of a sovereign God, at the same time described in the bible as Love personified. And for many traditions, such as the Reformed Evangelicalism I grew up with, the matter is exacerbated by the dire eternal prospects awaiting the bulk of humanity. If this were the reality, divine love would need to be defined very differently from “love” as humans understand it or indeed the bible defines it for believers in 1Cor13.

That is why this thesis concludes that such paradoxical theology is to be rejected, however revered its formulator may have been. Especially so, now that a workable solution has been provided regarding the mystery of evil and the outworking of divine love, integrated at it has been within a synopsis of the whole bible. Still more so once it has been grasped that such a disclosure was foretold in ex-canonical Scripture that had not been intended (or even made available) for the Church through most of her history but for the final generation of believers [note #1]

NOTE #1 “The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and the righteous who will be living in the day of tribulation when all the wicked and godless are to be removed [opening verse of the Book of Enoch]]

The relevant prophecies: Enoch93:10 and 104:11-13 https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Enoch_(Charles)

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A book exploring the mystery of divine providence

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