Jesus on strategic spirituality

  • Don’t judge (then you won’t be judged)
  • Settle accounts early (then you’ll have inside help)
  • Give to the poor (then you will be rich in heaven)
  • Take the back seat (then others will honor you)
  • Clean the inside of your cup (then the outside will be taken care of)
  • Don’t waste time with swine (then you won’t be trampled)
  • Be a eunuch (then you won’t have marriage woes)
  • Be faithful with the small (then you’ll be over the large)
  • Lose your life (then you’ll gain it)
  • Leave everything for Jesus (then you’ll have ten times more)

“No one ever spoke the way this man does.” (John 7:46)

A bright room still visible

quilted white comforter

The relative inaccuracies of Bible transmission and translation are like:

  • dust mites in the air
  • angled blinds
  • smudges on glass

… that a bright beam of daylight encounters when bursting through a window.

The room is still visible. The objects in the room are discernible. You can still walk around. You can still see.

You would never say: I’m blind, I’m blind! Oh, the dust mites!

God-centered eternal progression

Will we become “like” God in heaven and the resurrection? Will we progress? Will we be bored?

Let me contrast two views that I disagree with, and then describe the view (#3) that I take:

View #1

woman standing at escalator

The view of Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff. In this view all the gods always progress in all of their attributes. And by the time we get to know what God knows now, we will have since then learned more. This is like an escalator. We travel upward, and by the time we arrive where God is now, he will have moved forward. Bruce McConkie condemned this view as a deadly, damnable heresy.

View #2

brown and white mountain under blue sky during daytime

The view of Orson Pratt, which was later championed by Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce McConkie. These said that all the exalted gods are equal in knowledge and power, cease to progress in their attributes. This view is like joining all the gods on top of a plateau. Brigham condemned this view and insisted that God is still learning.

These gods only progress in their “eternal increase”, that is, in their children or dominions. Sort of like a cosmic MLM.

View #3

silhouette photo of man on cliff during sunset

God-centered eternal-progression. Christians have an infinite God that has always known everything. God isn’t progressing in knowledge or power. He has never learned. His people grow forever in the enjoyment and capacity to enjoy his kindness. They never “max out” in the knowledge of God, since God is infinite.

Paul says in Ephesians 2:7 that Christ has raised us, “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.“ Paul prays in Ephesians 1:18 that believers would have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.”

So I will never get to the last page of the last book in the library of God’s knowledge and grace and say, “That’s it. That’s all there is to know.” His kindness and knowledge and power are “immeasurable” and “unsearchable” (Romans 11:33).

I like the way John Piper put it:

“In Christ the best is always yet to come. Always. No exceptions. Forever.”

Eternal progression of finite creatures who forever progress in the enjoyment of the kindness of an infinite God. All in the context of a new heaven, new earth, new physical resurrection body, new humanity, new community. With songs and culture and food and ethnic people groups and personality and relationships and land and property and dominion and responsibilities and work and governance.

And unimaginable things that we can’t even dream of.

Kwaku/Aaron 2020 Debate Review (Part 1)

On March 6, 2020 Kwaku El and I debated on the topic of “Is Jesus Enough?” at Utah Valley University. Our subtopics were:

  1. Is salvation by faith alone?
  2. Was there a Great Apostasy?
  3. Are families forever?

Part 1 will of this review be a high-level overview of the debate and a response to Kwaku’s latest video wherein he depicts me as Hitler.

Part 2 will dive more into the content of the debate, with a focus on the topics we had agreed to cover.

Continue reading “Kwaku/Aaron 2020 Debate Review (Part 1)”

A reminder to Christians

You are saved by faith alone apart from works.

Not by your performance or moral success or credibility or reputation or past or habits or disciplines or purity.

“We hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

God is delighted to receive your empty-handed, incomplete, immature, needy, desperate faith and give you 100% of Jesus, declaring you righteous, uniting you to him, forgiving you, adopting you, indwelling you, and securing you.

This is the gospel. And it is the foundation for addressing private, workplace, parenting, marital, or public failures. Start with preaching to yourself: God has forgiven you in Christ Jesus by faith alone apart from works, according to his word alone.

You have equal standing before God with every other believer. God has declared you perfectly righteous in Christ Jesus.

And you now can be live free from paralyzing guilt or wretched ambition. And go seek reconciliation with hard people and love your enemies. God loves you.

My beautiful letdown

It was a beautiful letdown
When I crashed and burned
When I found myself alone, unknown, and hurt

Beautiful Letdown, by Switchfoot

Switchfoot songs did a great job of capturing my existential crisis and coming to faith.

I had given up on truth and explored whatever made me feel good. My high school girlfriend had dumped me. I didn’t go to a reputable university. I was a lonely commuter to a community college. I found myself lazy, arrogant, and lusty.

But God drew me close. I met him in the New Testament. Romans blew me up. Grace came alive. I spent my early college days blasting Switchfoot with the windows down, glad that God had loosened my grip on the world.

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 73:25-26

“Only the losers win. They’ve got nothing to prove.”
“We are a beautiful letdown, painfully uncool.”
“Washing his face to start his day, he’s lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely.”
“There’s got to be something more than what I’m living for.”

Every Sunday morning is a members meeting

Every Sunday morning is a members meeting. The kind that guests are invited to visit.

The church gathering is that of locally committed, mutually affirming, publicly recognized believers in Jesus.

They are washed by the word. They practice the ordinances, and are led by elders and served by deacons. They are ministered to by people of various gifts that Christ has lavished his people with. They practice the one-anothers, and act in unity by one Spirit. They greet each other in the Lord. They are called out from the world to form an outpost of the kingdom.

How important! How fitting! How beautiful that we gather and govern as Jesus, our True Emperor, laid out in his holy word.

Lord, please encourage believers who are not a part of this to be convinced, to joyfully repent, and to dive in.

Harmonizing the resurrection accounts

  • Mary Magdalene separates from other women at some point. Either on the way to the tomb, or at the tomb (before the angels are encountered), or on the way to tell the disciples (before Jesus appears to the women).
  • Matthew 28:2-4 is a flashback. The earth quakes and angel descends earlier in the morning, frightening the guards. By the time the women arrive, an angel is inside the tomb. It is from within that he says, “See the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6).
  • The women initially don’t tell anyone (Mark 16:8), but then decide to (Luke 24:10).
  • Parts of the story are simplified or consolidated. Simplification: one angel is noted (Matthew 28:5) instead of two otherwise specified (Luke 24:4). Consolidation: the women “told these things to the apostles” (Luke 24:10). This consolidates Mary Magdalene reporting to Peter and John, and the other women reporting to the rest of the disciples.
  • “The sun had risen” (Mark 16:2) could anciently mean essentially: at dawn.

See also: “A plausible harmony of the accounts and sequence of events” of the resurrection