Clearing the Board
September 21, 2023
Last night, I was awakened several times. Each time I had some new thought, and each time one theme was being built. I hope I can remember all of it and write it in this essay. Again, it is following the main theme for me to write essays: “clearing the board” of archaic religious words that have hampered people of today from understanding — sometimes “turning them off” to even considering the messaging and purposes of God, Jesus,and the Bible.
The whole essence of the Bible is to be clearly understood by everyone. No confusion. No excuses.
My foundational thought is that the Bible is consistent — through and through — that is to say, whenever people think they have found an inconsistency, what they have really found is an inconsistency in their own interpretations. We are often poor listeners. Even the scholars have conflicting ideas which have developed schisms (called denominations), disassembling the purposeful assembling of the family of God by the Spirit of God.
My advice is for people to eat the whole meal, consider the whole experience, and not just pick at the plate, eating only what they know they like — as fussy little children do.
The first example is the understanding of the passages of the Bible that use the word “predestination.” This is one of the Bible passages around which the passions rage: is Romans 8:29 (King James Version) — “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
It seems to me that the selectivity and isolation of one verse ignores the context and therefore the whole and complete idea the author is trying to communicate. It keeps reminding me of the question in Proverbs 1:22, “How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge?”
As I have come to see it, predestination is a silly “cart or the horse” debate. It illustrates how archaic religious words — and religiosity — develop squabbles between otherwise intelligent adults. Never ever will congregations have peace with God and unity among themselves unless the diverse Christian denominations center their focus upon self-sacrificing love for one another, putting their Pharisaic doctrines aside, stopping ceaseless jabbering, and starting to listen, not ceaselessly arguing with one another, but carefully joining together, listening to the Holy Spirit who they claim to know.
Unfortunately, I doubt this will ever happen, because the denominations have become “too big for their britches.” What’s the saying? “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. — Proverbs 16:18.
The original Greek text uses this word: “prognósis.” That struck a chord with me immediately. Doctors offer their diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options. The prognosis is not the final word. Rather it is part of a continuing process. Further, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon uses the words “previous determination.’ Strong’s Concordance uses “forethought, prearrangement.” Unfortunately, those slightly different words are not likely to convince anyone to change their perceptions, let alone their hard-and-fast doctrines. Yet, if individuals would loosen their girdles just a little, they might realize the notion that the Calvinist doctrine they cling to, that is, “only certain special people are predestined for Heaven,” has at least two major flaws:
- Jesus said, Revelation 22:17 — The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. (NIV)
- This also inMatthew 10:6–8 — These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “…As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ …Freely you have received; freely give. (ibid, excerpt)
It may be that the phrase “predestined in Christ” is a forgotten part of the process:
- Diagnosis — “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
- Prognosis — “…And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God.”
- Treatment — What must I do? “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”
As I have written before, God gave us free will to choose whatever path we want to follow. God also warned us of consequences that follow us in our steps while traveling on our chosen paths — consequences both temporal and eternal. The idea of “previous determination” from Thayer’s dovetails with a doctor’s “prognosis” to give the understanding that God has a plan, and He is sticking to it. God has general plans for individuals and the whole of Humanity. 2 Peter 3:9 (ibid). Those plans are predetermined based on what we choose. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9.
Now, the next waking idea that came to me was concerning the idea of Peter and the other apostles being deified and worshiped and even prayed to… “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” — Acts 4:12.
Most denominations give at least the original apostles the title “Saint.” That verse just quoted means all the denominations are wrong, very wrong.
The Greek Bible word “hagios” was first translated into the Latin word “sanctas” then into the English word “saint.” Something was lost in the translations. The Greek word was used to indicate someone “set apart.” and further, “different (unlike), other (otherness).” Both references are from Strong’s Concordance.
Throughout the Bible, God chooses various people, families, and nations to “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.”
From online — https://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible — “The apostle Paul referred to Isaiah 52:11 to help make his point that Christians are called out of the world and are to be separate — sanctified — set apart. We must live in the world, but we are not to be of the world .” — John 17:14–18.
Further, this example, from 2 Corinthians 6:17, was concerning difficulties being experienced in life as Born Again Believers, and it is intended to show God’s purposes for allowing bad things to happen. God’s purposes are manifold, but my point here is that a saint is just an otherwise ordinary person — a new creation, yes — but still experiencing the ordinary difficulties of life.
Now, Acts 14:13–15, has an interesting illustration reinforcing my point. After a miraculous healing through Paul, “the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, ‘Friends, why are you doing this? We too, are only human, like you.’ “ (ibid).
This clearly shows that Believers, no matter their apparent worthiness, are not to be venerated, deified, worshiped, prayed to, or used in any other liturgical acts of devotion. God uses ordinary people to do the extraordinary in Jesus’ name. Those Believers did all those miracles by the authority of God in Jesus’ name. Nowhere in the Bible does God share His glory with men. There are no distinctively unequaled individuals or groups in the Bible, but simply, those chosen by God for His purposes and His purposes alone. Often, the chosen fail God’s purposes in astounding ways. Yet, the consequences of their mistakes can benefit our ability to choose rightly.
Any person or group who claims superiority above others is definitely not bringing a message from God. Neither should any denomination teach superiority of any person but only the superiority of God.
“You shall have no other gods before me.” is a precept in the first of the original Ten Commandments.