Gospel Remains Half Truth
If your Gospel leaves you at the foot of the cross then you have no concept of the Gospel Plan of God.
Finished or Not So Much
One of the most misunderstood things that Jesus ever said was “It is Finished.” What was finished? That is the million dollar question. There are lots of ideas on this, but most seem to capture but half the truth. Let me illustrate it this way. Question: Can you describe the Gospel Plan of God without including the cross? If not, your gospel is at best a half truth. I don’t have to remind us of what people say about half truths – well, let’s not even go there.
It might surprise some that Jesus was not born to die. He was born to fulfill the Gospel Plan of God through his incarnation. Jesus would have incarnated into humanity whether man sinned or not – it was part of the Gospel plan all along.
If your Gospel leaves you at the foot of the cross then you have no concept of the Gospel Plan of God. In other words, if I plan a trip – say from Florida to California, and along the way I have a big wreck while driving to California that requires a rescue mission – it is fine to celebrate the fact that I survived – but ultimately the trip was about arriving safely in California. To mistake the wreck and rescue mission as the plan would be an insult to our intelligence and sensibilities. Some might even consider having us committed If we thought this way.
“So son, what are your plans this weekend?”
Well dad, I thought we would first take the family car out and wreck it and maybe come up with a rescue plan to boot?”
“OK son, but first can you get my fishing pole out of the closet?”
Dad locks door behind him.
To mistake the garden event and the cross event as the plan would be like mistaking a wreck and rescue mission as the plan on a journey from Florida to California. In other words when Jesus said “it is finished” he was referring to the Gospel plan, which only included the rescue mission of the cross event because of the garden event and its introduction of sin into creation. The gospel plan of God has always been adoption, but had to include a rescue mission through the cross as a result of the wreck in the garden.
If your “it is finished” is only rooted in the rescue mission of the cross event and does not include the Gospel Plan of adoption, you will end up turning one of the most beautiful passages in scripture into a debate over theological view points.
It will never cease to amaze me the blank looks on people’s faces when I discuss this with them – people who have been Christians for decades – most having no clue of what adoption is – many never even remembering it mentioned in a sermon or in church, not to mention the bible. Now I have to confess, I too knew next to nothing about adoption for the first fifty years of my life, and maybe that is the most shocking of all, because it is my own experience that confronts me so harshly. How does this happen? How could we have missed this? The answer to that would take up way to much space, but there are answers to those questions – important answers, but not for the topic at hand.
The apostle Paul provides us with much of what we can know and understand regarding adoption. Interestingly, he found himself somewhat isolated on the topic, since it had been kept secret, until Christ could secure it. That becomes a big problem. You didn’t just go introducing new things into the religious system. In other words you don’t introduce a new concept within the context of the New Covenant which emerged from the Old Covenant without support for it in the Old Covenant. This can quickly get you jailed or stoned or even killed – welcome to Paul’s life. Much of what Paul says regarding the New Covenant he draws from or builds upon things from the Old Covenant – many of them already pointing forward to the New Covenant. With adoption – it was a mystery - Paul says his gospel is a “revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.” In fact Paul uses the word mystery to describe adoption a lot – in other words he openly acknowledges that it is not something that emerges from the old covenant, but is something that emerges from God before time began and was kept secret so nothing could interfere with the plan – sin made the whole journey of adoption ugly enough – we didn't need anything added to the mess we have made.
Imagine for a moment the implications of this. Paul mentions adoption 19 times (or as the metonym “mystery”). That is four less times than the word hell is mentioned in the entire New Testament – I don’t have to guess which one most have heard of – ironically Paul never mentions hell – just maybe we are missing something. We have thousands of books on hell and the cross, but would be lucky to find four on the Gospel plan of God - the journey to adoption.
This is a significant issue. Paul in Ephesians 1, speaking of God the Father suggests: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:” Hello! Unless we know what the mystery is we cannot know the will of God. You mean to tell me that for over 1700 years now the institution we call church has been operating without knowing what the will of the Father is – which he purposed within himself according to his own good pleasure to do it? Paul just a few verses earlier regarding the Father again, declares: “Having predestinated humanity unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” – “as he hath chosen humanity in him before the foundation of the world, that humanity should be holy and without blame before him in love:”
If your “it is finished” is only rooted in the rescue mission of the cross event and does not include the Gospel Plan of adoption, you will end up turning one of the most beautiful passages in scripture into a debate over theological view points. In fact this is what we have done. We have endless arguments over things like Calvinism, Arminianism and Universalism. If you don’t know what those are – take the next 6 months and thank God for that every day. In the end all of these paint God out as a monster and they need to go away and the insanity stopped. They are flat earth theologies and not rooted in scripture – they are rooted in paganism that was introduced into Christianity 1700 years ago and we have been building on a false premise ever since.
Theology Falls Flat
Imagine if you will a group of sailors having a discussion on how to approach the edge of the earth by boat - trying to figure out the best approach without falling over the edge – or off the edge whatever the case may be – nobody has actually done this successfully yet, so what exactly happens is not known. However, these sailors are quite convinced about the proper approach – after all they are sailors you know – and sailors would know. They are not ignorant of ways to convince others of this – they have their ways. But amongst themselves there is not complete agreement and debates break out, sometimes turning ugly. The Calvinist in his most assured way suggests that the way you approach the edge of the earth is irrelevant. All the prayers in the world cannot help you, for there is only one current that will allow you to navigate the edge of the earth. In fact it has been predetermined which ships will find the right current and as long as you don’t steer the ship out of that current you will safely reach the edge of the earth without falling off.
Now the Arminianist has had about all he can take of this. What is the point of having an edge if you can’t get to the edge, except by chance? The current is not the issue; it is how you sail the currents. You have to make the right choices - what you need is the proper method and as long as you stay the course using the proper method you will reach the edge safely.
The Universalist just shakes his head. Guys you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. In fact all the currents will take you safely to the edge of the earth – stop fighting it – just ride the currents and they will get you there safely.
Tragically all are arguing on the basis of a premise that does not even exist. I’m thinking 1700 years of that is more than enough. Can we please get back to reality?
So what then is adoption? There are two considerations here. First understanding what it is and then the plan God had in mind in order to accomplish it. Adoption involves a destination and a journey. Put another way the good news (gospel) is adoption and the good news plan is the journey of adoption.
Back before time began God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit existed in a relational context of “with-ness” – “pros” in the Greek, meaning to turn toward – like a father and son walking hand in hand and turning toward each other face to face in intimate embrace – or as some describe it the great dance - a dynamic relationship of “with-ness” so deep that it can only be described as one – a “with-ness” that existed in an everlasting union and communion, yet without losing distinction. From this unchanging relational context of union, communion and distinction flowed infinite expressions of love.
Other thoughts of love flowed from this relationship as well – thoughts of including others in this uncreated spirit life of with-ness that they had always existed in. But how does something become part of uncreated.
Good news - a plan was in hand – a plan called adoption, which existed before the foundation of the world – a secret plan now revealed.
The journey to adoption would require four things - creation, incarnation, transfiguration, and ascension. Now don’t let those words scare you, they are just fancy words that describe simple concepts of complex things – amazing concepts, but simple in terms of what they represent. For example I can simply know that 14 divided by 2 is equal to 7, without knowing all the complexities and algorithms required to prove 14 divided by 2 is equal to 7. For those interested in the complexities of the terms describing adoption, I encourage folks investigate them – there is hardly anything written on them in terms of adoption, so I look forward to reading about your discoveries – the field is wide open – but for most it is OK to understand these terms in their simplicity.
Our insistence on what is morally right or morally wrong, might just be the most hateful human endeavor
Designed For Glory
So let me give a short summary regarding each leg in our journey to adoption and humanities inclusion in the uncreated spirit life of God.
The first being creation. In order to include something else in God’s relationship, something else had to exist. Thus God created man in God’s own relational image (relational context of union and communion yet with distinction) and his relational likeness (the relational way God expresses himself in love). This is the relational consciousness that Adam was created with and existed in. I will only have space to mention it here but will have other articles on the topic – Adam and Eve lost sight of and became blind to this relational consciousness when they ate from the forbidden tree – they instead became conscious of themselves, others and God in terms of a non-relational context of morality – a context of what was palatable or not palatable – agreeable or disagreeable – tolerable or intolerable – good or evil, etc.
We began to judge people on something other than relationship, something other than the glory we were designed for – something other than union and communion without losing distinction and expressed through love. As a result of the garden event we now see ourselves in terms of he’s bad, she’s good, I’m a failure, will never amount to anything, etc. We began to see ourselves and others non-relationally – a non-relational context of morality driven by conscience.
Tragically, morality is a great way to distribute hatred without exposing ourselves to others as well as to ourselves – years of living in this context, blinds us even further to the reality of how hateful we can actually become – have become. Our insistence on what is morally right or morally wrong, might just be the most hateful human endeavor – God invites us back to the destiny of the glory which we were created for –the glory of participating in his relationship – a relationship we were designed for – destined for – a face to face encounter with God the Father – the same glory Jesus now enjoys – he is the first human to experience this – the firstfruit from the grave – Christ in me the hope of the same glory.
Jesus for all eternity will remain fully human, while remaining fully God so that created could be included in the uncreated spirit life of God.
America – the “In-a-car-nation”
This brings me to the next leg in our journey to adoption – incarnation. In a nut shell what this means is that just as every human has entered into creation through Adam’s seed and thus are joined to him – Christ has also entered into humanity through the seed of the Holy Spirit, thus joining him with all humanity - joining uncreated with created - becoming fully human while remaining fully God.
A couple things here to note – Jesus summarizes creation and incarnation in one verse - John 14:20 – he says; just as I am in the father, you are in me and I am in you. In the beginning when God created space and matter, he opened up a space within himself to create all things – all were in him. But now through incarnation he is also in humanity. Just as uncreated (Son) is in uncreated (Father), created is now in uncreated, and uncreated is in created. Jesus is the mediator between God and man – the mediator between created and uncreated. Just think about that for a moment – just spend some time in that place. Jesus for all eternity will remain fully human, while remaining fully God so that created could be included in the uncreated spirit life of God.
Keep in mind Jesus said this before he went to the cross – the context and Greek tense, suggesting it was true then and there even though the disciples would not see it until the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. In other words, Jesus is in and through all things and in him we live and move and have our being. In order to include created in uncreated through adoption, incarnation had to occur whether man sinned or not. Jesus declaration on the cross – “it is finished” was a declaration that adoption for all humanity had been secured. He had done all in his life and in his death that was required to secure it. There was nothing left that could prevent it. His death was sure - his resurrection was sure – his ascension was sure – his face to face fellowship with the Father was sure. We have been included in it – when he died, we died, when he rose he rose, when he ascended we ascended - it was all finally secured on the cross – nothing ever, for all time, can stop it - adoption was a win.
You are a new spirit creature in Christ – you became part of uncreated spirit – you were not created spirit like some like to suggest – the angels were created spirit to dwell in the created spirit realm – you were created to become part of the uncreated spirit realm
The third leg of our journey brings us to transfiguration. If there is a scary one in the list, this one has my vote – it sounds a lot like disfiguration and seems to leave the door open to go in that direction. When we get past the unfamiliarity of the term, we actually find things that we are very familiar with – how they work, well that might be a different story. The Greek term used here is” metamorphoo” from which we get our English word “metamorphosis.” When were kids, this was one of the more interesting things we looked at in science – the teacher could actually bring a chrysalis or caterpillar to class and we could watch it morph into a butterfly. How cool was that?
Here we have a picture of Jesus taking three of his apostles up a mountain and he gets morphed right before their eyes – whoa! In the excitement of seeing this, Peter had an idea – not a very good idea – but an idea none the less. He suggested they build alters to commemorate the occasion. Now in Peter’s defense, I don’t think he realized what was going on, but the Father put an end to Peter’s plan quite promptly – a bright light blinded them and a voice came out of the cloud saying – “this is my son in whom I am well pleased – you would do well to listen to him.” At this point they could not hit the dirt fast enough – some thought they heard Peter saying – “Make me a gopher, make me a gopher, please let me be a gopher” – just havin a little fun. But in truth, they probably had never wanted a closer relationship with dirt in all their lives. Jesus came over and touched them and said – “don’t be afraid” – as they chanced a look at him – he was standing their all alone.
Most do not recognize the significance of this event – it not only pointed to the humanity of Christ but the need for his human body to be transfigured - or put another way - to go through a metamorphosis. Jesus was born in the likeness of sinful flesh – into a corrupted body, yet he sinned not. In his transfiguration – again before the cross event – he put on a mortal and corruptible body that was un-corrupted (unlike the one he was born with) so that he could go to the cross making this new body incorruptible and immortal.
Now Paul discusses transfiguration as well in terms of us. He describes this heavenly body as something we put on – not that we take off our old body, but are overclothed with the new. In other words corruptible puts on incorruptible and mortal puts on immortal. This new body is the one that Christ took to the cross – a corruptible body that had not been corrupted and in his death he made it incorruptible – might I suggest that the transfiguration of Christ is very important. Apart from this we would not transfigure and be clothed with the new body – meaning adoption of created into uncreated could not happen. You are a new spirit creature in Christ – you became part of uncreated spirit – you were not created spirit like some like to suggest – the angels were created spirit to dwell in the created spirit realm – you were created to become part of the uncreated spirit realm - and someday your physical body will put on the transfigured, Incorruptible, immortal body of Christ. Paul even tells us that not all will die physically (since Christ will return) but every human shall all be changed – and he is not talking about changing diapers here – he is talking about transfiguration.
One final note here on transfiguration - notice how through the entire journey to adoption – union, communion, and distinction are preserved. In the same way a caterpillar does not lose its identity by becoming a butterfly, we to do not become unclothed, but overclothed – not losing our distinction. To do so would be a violation of the sovereignty of God.
All will transfigure and ascend into the uncreated spirit realm of God. The question that remains is: do we want to participate in our inclusion in it
Anybody going up?
The final leg in our journey to adoption is ascension. Lots of misunderstanding here on this topic. Some of which has gotten a lot of people killed and may get millions more killed. But in terms of the subject here, in the same way that Christ ascended back to the Father on the same day he rose from the grave – we to will one day ascend to the Father – the goal of adoption fulfilled – a face to face fellowship with the Father as Jesus has enjoyed for all eternity. This is humanities destiny, it is what we were designed for – created for. All will transfigure and ascend into the uncreated spirit realm of God. The question that remains is: do we want to participate in our inclusion in it – God will never violate your relational distinction – in other words he will not make you participate in something you do not want to participate in. Just as God included you in this created realm he has included you in the uncreated realm through adoption – he predestined you to this – to stand before him holy and without blame - But he will not force you to participate in what you have been included in. That would be a violation of your distinction.
The ball is in your court.
Don’t let the pagan teachings of the institution we call church sway your choice. In many ways they are blinded more to the true nature of God than the rest of the world is. I think atheists see the God in a better light than the church does – a more scriptural light I might add.
Don’t let the struggles of this world sway you from missing out on the opportunity before you. I don’t have the space to address all the issues we struggle with in that regard and in my experience the church has few answers to those questions – I assure you there are answers. Don’t let those unanswered questions sway you from the blessing God has included you in. It is as simple as saying – God I want to be a part of whatever you are doing and what you have already included me in – I want to participate in it. We have eternity to work out all the questions – sure we can begin now, but first things first – let’s respond to what we do know and what has been revealed. Adoption was the plan, the plan has been secured and you have been included in it – do you want to participate in it.
Sometimes I use a playground analogy to picture this. Through adoption we have been included in the playground – the uncreated spirit life of God. But we can choose to participate in it or not. Sadly the institution we call church is still trying to dictate to everyone how to get included in the playground and who is included - in the end they simply teach people how to be the best caterpillar they can be. In this context many are left standing at the foot of the cross. God had so much more in mind for you than that. He has transformed you into a new creature without losing you identity that originated in the heart and mind of God before time began. In fact you are a new and unique expression of God himself and when he put the brush down he declared about you – it is very good – and he hasn’t changed his mind – nothing can separate us from the love that the Father has for us. It is freely given, will you freely receive it?