Nailing It

The Cross of Christ is the centerpiece of human history, the masterpiece of God’s design. On it, a mysterious transaction is taking place between the human and divine, between the temporal and eternal. Supernatural life is hidden here, God’s stairway to heaven.

Spike joining 1st US coast-to-coast Railroad

As Jesus Christ allows Himself to be nailed to this cross and dies here, embracing unspeakable suffering on our behalf (Is 53:4-5), He becomes sin for us, so that in Him we might be made perfectly righteous. (2Co 5:21)

Yet as He’s suffering for us, Christ Himself is also nailing something else to His own cross: He calls it the handwriting of ordinances(Col 2:14) These ordinances are against us, contrary to us; He blots them out and takes them away. What are they?

First and foremost, it can’t be Torah, the ordinances YHWH Himself has given us. These ordinances aren’t against us; they’re good (Ro 7:12) and for our good. (Ps 119:71) Their purpose is to point us to God and facilitate our becoming like Him. (1Ti 1:5)

It could be sin, for Christ became sin for us and was nailed to the cross, but the handwriting of ordinances isn’t God’s definition of sin. Or it could be accusation, which loses all its force in Christ (Ro 8:34), but I think this is both awkward and redundant with context (Col 2:13); it simply doesn’t do this justice.

The immediate context is an admonition: let no man judge you; we ought not to be intimidated by extra-biblical rules and regulations defining how to we’re to abide in God. (Col 2:16) Man is always adding to, twisting and corrupting God’s Word, trying to burden, manipulate and control us through our very longing to know and walk with God. It’s insidiously powerful, a constant obstacle in our spiritual journey.

My thought is that Christ nails all this false, Man-made religion to His cross, everything that’s designed to keep us from a living, vibrant life with Him. He’s taken down every barrier to fellowship with Himself: He’s nailed our sin, and also every lie about Himself, to His cross. He enforces no space between us and Him, no distance; He’s made a way to be be closer to us than our own breath, within and throughout us, working in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. (Php 2:13)

God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world! (Ga 6:14)

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Eat the Tithe

Party Time! Maybe not the words that first come to mind when we think of God’s Law, but after telling us to care for ourselves as His children, YHWH commands us to take seasonal vacations, our house to His, to party with Him!

The funding for these feasts is the Tithe, a tenth of our harvest in fields and flocks, which only God Himself can provide. We’re to eat this gratefully in His presence, congregating where He’s placed His name (De 14:23), feasting on our heart’s desire, rejoicing before Him. (De 14:26)

While Christian leaders commonly teach that God wants us to support their ministries with our tithes, God Himself says no such thing. Our tithes are to fund these pilgrimages and parties, care for the poor (De 14:28-29) and provide for Levites as they serve the tabernacle (Nu 18:26) and arbitrate civil disputes. (De 21:5)

God never intended that we hire people to teach us about Himself (1Jn 2:27); that’s not what our tithe is for. Tithes are His way of bringing us all together to rejoice in Him, providing a basic safety net in society and funding simple judiciaries. In finding and knowing Him, He gave us His Word and expects us to study it. (Jn 5:39)

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My Soul Breaks

When strength of desire breaks our soul, when longing exceeds our power to contain, when intensity of yearning crests like waves within us, and overcomes and overflows our being, taking our breath away, perhaps then we’re after something worth having. Have we ever known such desire?

The Psalmist admits such intense and continual longing for the judgments of God. (Ps 119:20) Like a merchant seeking goodly pearls, he finds hidden gems in that which fools despise and overlook. (Pr 1:7) What is it in the judgments of God that makes them so breathtakingly desirable? Have we discovered the priceless treasure they contain? (Ps 119:18)

Whenever YHWH expresses Himself He reveals more of His nature, exposing a facet of His heart. His Law expresses His nature and expectations, His instructions contain His wisdom and holiness, and His judgments reveal His reaction as His laws are violated; they’re all His testimonies, witnesses of His character. So each and every one exudes His holy infinitude (Ro 11:33), a precious window into Jehovah’s absolute perfection. (Is 26:8-9) That’s why our inner man instinctively delights in the Law of God. (Ro 7:22)

It is here, meditating in the nature of God, feeding on His majesty, where we find joy unspeakable, and full of glory. (1Pe 1:8) This is our inheritance (Ps 119:111), and it’s only found in God.

As the deer pants after the water brooks, so the instructed soul pursues the living God with every breath (Ps 42:1), until, in His immediate and boundless presence, we find ourselves crying out with those around Him, “Holy, holy holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” (Re 4:8)

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I Never Knew You

Devastating, horrifying … hearing Jesus say: “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mt 7:23) Deceived about God and how to relate with Him, expecting Jesus to receive them with open arms, so many will hear these words in abject terror. (Mt 7:22) How do souls meet so dreadful an end, believing themselves servants of Christ while grieving Him and trampling His ways underfoot?

Whenever we hear God’s Word and don’t do it, we deceive ourselves. (Ja 1:22) Knowing about God doesn’t make us good; disobeying Him enables the enemy to blind us.

Why bother hearing God’s Word, studying Scripture and teaching it to others, if we ourselves are hating His instruction and casting His words behind us? (Ps 50:16-17) Willfully disobeying God reveals an enmity against Him. (Ro 8:7) We end up pursuing God’s blessings rather than God Himself; rather than seeking a deep relationship with Him, we simply use Him to further our own interests, trying to make ourselves look good on the outside while ignoring our hearts.

Having a religious exterior means nothing to God. Not loving truth (2Th 2:10) is rejecting light. (Jn 3:19) YHWH will cast all who don’t know and obey Him, both profane and religious, into a fiery furnace (Mt 13:49-50) to be trodden down, to inherit indignation (Ps 69:24), eternal shame and everlasting contempt. (Da 12:2)

Eternity is infinite in multiple dimensions: fullness, intensity and duration. Let’s give diligence to make our calling and election sure(2Pe 1:10) No one can afford to miss this. (Lk 9:25)

Though many affirm us in our own way, there’s no safety outside God Himself; knowing Him and being known by Him. (2Ti 2:19) Believing what we want, picking and choosing Bible verses here and there to succor our lies, ignoring those which counter us, is merely to deceive ourselves. In the end, there can be no excuse (Ro 1:20); His Word, taken as a whole, is simply too clear.

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One of Another

As YHWH instructs He speaks to us as individuals, yet also collectively, as souls and as community in the same breath, mixing singular with plural, at times within a single command.

For example, YHWH says: “Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it.” (De 14:21a) The first pronoun ye is plural, yet thou and thy are singular. He is addressing each of us specifically, while acknowledging the common human organism to which we all belong.

He’s walking out a truth in our presence that can be very hard to see: we’re distinct from each other, entirely unique, and yet members of each other, one of another. (Ep 4:25) As members of the human race we’re interconnected, affecting each other as if we’re cells in the vastness of the transcendent human machine.

The image of God within each of us is infinite, connecting us with each other and with Him in ways beyond our comprehension. (He 7:10) Our lives and actions ripple and reverberate over time in and through others, influencing and impacting eternal souls in God’s vast, eternal plan. No one lives or dies in and by themselves. (Ro 14:7)

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Children of YHWH

As YHWH recounts His instructions for us, He begins in an unexpected manner: “Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.” (De 14:1) What a fascinating way to begin!

Losing a loved one in death is an extremely moving experience; to demonstrate our love we might disfigure ourselves in some way as a token, a remembrance of them. (Le 19:28) But disvaluing ourselves doesn’t enrich others, and it’s disrespectful to our Creator, in whose image we’re all made.

And if we’re not to mar ourselves for such intense motivations, how much more should we refrain from doing so for more trivial, whimsical reasons?

And if we aren’t to mar our bodies, how much less should we ever mar our spirits? Putting ourselves down, wishing ourselves harm, fearing victory, achievement and success, neglecting God’s gifts within (1Ti 4:14), despising His design in us … how does this honor Him?

In this initial command, YHWH’s telling us to respect ourselves, to honor ourselves along with others, acknowledging that we’re all on equal footing before Him; loving our neighbors as ourselves implies loving ourselves.

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How Much More?

In our pursuit of truth, YHWH encourages us to use induction, showing us how to draw general conclusions from specific details.

Fingal’s Cave, Hebrides Isles, Scotland

For example, He says, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?(Mt 7:11) In saying “how much more,” God is telling us how discover more of His faithfulness by observing parents: since He gives parental instinct to move even evil people to care for their children, we should reason that He will certainly care for His own.

We learn similarly by beholding the fowls: if God takes care of the birds, how much more will He take care of us? (Lk 12:24) These samples just scratch the surface.

YHWH has provided His Law to equip us to discern His will in any conceivable situation. (2Ti 3:16-17) He’s done this by writing it in such a way that we can employ induction to discern innumerable related truths from the truth He’s already provided. (Ps 119:18)

Torah establishes the boundary conditions of morality, and we can use these as axioms to derive any and all truth we need to walk with God. We will certainly make mistakes, but we can check and correct ourselves by loving the truth, allowing no contradiction with any text of scripture, and humbly considering all challenges in their strongest possible form.

We don’t get this treasure by merely reading scripture; it comes from hiding it in our heart, meditating on it and praying through it, asking God to reveal Himself to us through a living Word. (Ps 119:99)

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Blaspheme the Holy Ghost

Christ says blasphemy against the Holy Ghost will never be forgiven. (Mt 12:31) What kind of sin is this? How do we know if we’ve committed it?

Christ is responding to the Pharisees’ claim that He Himself, as He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, raised the dead, cast out devils, and preached good news to the poor, was in league with and empowered by Satan. (Mt 12:24) They found no evidence of evil in Him, but despised Him for denouncing their hypocrisy and wickedness.

Rather than acknowledge Christ’s godly power and turn to God, the Pharisees chose to sin grossly against plain fact, and publicly accuse Christ of being demon possessed. (Jn 10:20) This kind of blatant disregard for truth, this level of aggravated insult to the divine being, a deliberate choosing of deception and lies in the face of miraculous, divine revelation, is what Christ is describing. (Jn 15:24)

As a person continues to give themselves over to this level of deception and wickedness, they’re giving themselves over to darkness, to Satan himself, to be captured and ensnared by him. (2Ti 2:26) There comes a point of no return, at some level, from which no one will ever recover, where one’s conscience is seared with a hot iron, such that distinguishing between good and evil is no longer possible. (1Ti 4:2)

This isn’t the kind of sin a child of God can commit. (1Jn 3:9) A person who’s committed to this level of wickedness isn’t going to be worried about it; they’ll scoff at the idea that they’re in danger of hell fire. There will be no fear of God in them, no desire to repent and cease from their pride and wickedness (Mk 15:31); God will have given them up, turned them over to their own way (Pr 1:31), and abandoned them in their sin. (Pr 1:28-29)

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I Am Chief

Who, in your opinion, is likely the worst person, the most wicked, the most evil person who has ever lived?

This isn’t merely academic. We instinctively rank others in moral goodness, invariably finding someone worse than ourselves.

However, arguably the greatest Christian ever, writing more books of the Bible than any other, answered this question: “Me.”

The apostle Paul thought of himself as less than the least of God’s elect (Ep 3:8), the chief of sinners, the worst who ever lived. (1Ti 1:15)

How can this be? And is this a coincidence? Is this true humility? Or insanity?

Well, how do you know you aren’t the worst person who’s ever lived? What evidence do you have that the moral choices you’ve been making, based on the raw material you have to work with in your upbringing and experiences, won’t put you last on Judgement Day?

The answer is simple. You don’t. For all you know, you actually might be the worst person who has ever lived. (Ga 6:3)

This changes everything.

Nothing in my hands I bring. Simply to His cross I cling. He died for me.

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Wonderfully Made

At the core of every living cell is an extremely complex, self-replicating machine; billions of perfectly interconnected parts forming a network of living computer programs which read each other bidirectionally: forwards to do one thing, and the same exact piece of code read in reverse to accomplish something entirely different. Genius computer geeks can’t even begin to touch this kind of complexity.

Electron Microscope image of DNA

Each plant and animal species has its own version of this peculiar machine. Three amazingly complicated, interdependent macromolecules comprise it; any two can combine to construct the third, and it’s the only way any of the three is ever made.

Scientists call the three parts DNA, RNA and protein; the building blocks of life, a trinity both encoding and replicating the unique genetic code of each species, constantly configuring themselves in various ways to build the complex network of  tissues and organs within every life form. We don’t know what makes them tick or how they could possibly have evolved.

What we do know is that the entire biological system breaks down if we remove any one of the three components of these incredible machines, each one being perfectly designed to work only with the other two. We call this irreducible complexity, and it’s evidence of Intelligent Design in Creation.

Though some dismiss ID as pseudoscience, they must do so irrationally: not only do we remain at a loss to explain how this kind of machine could ever appear apart from Intelligent Design, it’s inconceivable that anything this complex could ever could do so by chance. When studying wrist watches, it’s not pseudoscience to claim a watchmaker exists; in fact, toying with any alternative is patently absurd. Only hopeless ideologues persist in such mindlessness.

“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”  Charles Darwin

Darwin and his contemporaries had no idea of the complexity of a living cell, each like a city in itself, a vast network of thousands of intricate components working seamlessly together, or of the incredible design embedded in each and every molecule within each cell. If it is theoretically possible to demonstrate that evolution breaks down with a set of facts, then this has indeed been shown with the facts presented here.

The truth is we’re fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), created in the image of God, to fellowship with Him.

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