An Alternative Way to Live

Last week, I wrote about how those who live in the Red Pyramid World think of faith.  Before we look at an alternate definition of faith, let’s step back and look more closely at life in the Green V World.

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This world is generally the reverse and inversion of Red Pyramid World. Think of a stack of “V” shapes, each one supporting the others that are above; the two lowest “V’s” are God the Father and God the Son. Then, the order proceeds to men, women, and children. “Headship” and authority serve responsibility and care-taking. In this world, masculinity is primarily concerned with bearing responsibility for others. In this world all things exist by God’s design, all things work together for good, and nothing is wasted or useless. In this world the meta-physical or immaterial is essential, while the material is an extension, a laboratory in which to learn about everything without mistakes being deadly or catastrophic.

In this world happiness is also the goal, but it is a very different kind of happiness—deeper, broader, more substantive and enduring. Happiness, in this world, is something the soul experiences when sacrificing one’s body for the well-being of another.

This is a profound and powerful happiness for many reasons. First, this happiness comes from realizing what it means to be made in the image of God. What could ever make us happier than doing what we are good at (or the very best at)? Second, this happiness is free and open. We do it by inspiration rather than compulsion, from fullness rather than emptiness, from contentment rather than desperation, and from love rather than selfishness. There are always more people to love so the opportunities are endless and there is usually no line to wait in. Third, the corruption of our human nature makes our desires contrary to our living, regenerate soul. Therefore, spending our time and human nature in service to others—using it, fatiguing it, and wearing it out—allows our living, regenerate soul to have the upper hand, to prevail for life and goodness. Fourth, because we are increasing the life of our soul by giving the life of the body for other living, eternal souls, the love we give has everlasting value. The Green V World is the absolute algorithm; it answers every question, solves every puzzle, unlocks every door, and always only ever chooses for life.  Because of the nature of this world, God’s creation, that means for the benefit of everyone’s life in time and eternity, in body and soul!

Take some time to consider the ideas of this Green V World.  Send me any comments or questions you have about these two world views I’ve presented.  My next post will consider how those who live life according to the Green V World view define faith.

 

From World Views to How Words are Viewed–Faith

In my last post, I presented two world view models, and over the next several weeks, we’ll explore the significance of these models in relation to our experiences, to how words are defined, to biblical terms for salvation, and biblical concepts for life.

May we begin by sympathizing with people who live with the conviction or assumption that red pyramid world (physical and temporal only) is the only world. This world view changes the meaning of words. For example, “faith” in this world has to do with what a person wishes were true or prefers to believe. Faith is a person’s own preference, something he/she feels; it is emotional, powerful, and often changing in order to provide for more happiness more of the time. People here trust in their belief in what their own faith tells them. Such a meaning makes challenges to a person’s faith useless and unwelcome.

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What about another world of body and soul, time and eternity? In the Bible there is a single word translated in English as “faith,” “belief,” or “trust.” Just one word (“pistis”/”pisteuo” in Greek) that has to do with honesty about dependence. Notice the relationship between honesty and truth. The Bible invites and urges us to seek the truth, and honesty connects us to the truth. Honestly, we are utterly dependent on God for all things and on one another for most things. A living soul, based in truth, experiences life in a body and in time in a vastly different way than a person with a body and time only, especially because God assures us that He regenerates our everlasting soul to be ever-living. The meaning of common and essential words changes dramatically as we see things from the soul’s perspective. The first word we define differently is faith. What a difference in perspective we have when we know faith to be honesty about dependence, rather than “faith” as what a body wants to be true in a desperate lunge for a happiness that is tenuous and temporary.

Worlds Apart?

What if the world we are living in has made it impossible for people to hear the truth, either through nature or the Bible? Over the past 150 years three powerful forces have altered the way people think. First, people today assume that evolution is a fact; the only “life” we have is accidental, material, and bound in a short period of time. Second, people are frantically trying to get as much happiness as they can as quickly as possible as much of the time as possible. This explains our world’s preoccupation with sexual identity and activity. Third, electronic media has replaced real life for many people. Sports, video games, entertainment, and social media have created virtual worlds that people are addicted to. Let’s call this “red pyramid world” because it is all about climbing over each other in fierce competition for happiness which inevitably results in death. The only true living God and His Word are hated and despised in this world view, which is reasonable if that is the world as it is. If there is a God, why doesn’t He grant us happiness all the time?

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But what if there is another world?  I like to call this “green V world,” in which the essence of life is spiritual and the essence of our identity is the soul designed to live in union with God and one another; this is life infinite. Inside this reality there is a physical world of souls with physical bodies—a laboratory where we learn by experience about life and death, love and hatred, God and His creation. This world makes sense of everything all the time. Here we understand Jesus when He says, “… whoever hates his life in this world will save it…” and “… greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life …” and “… love your enemies.” This world understands why denying the passions of our rebellious human nature is the only way to lasting, authentic happiness according to God’s design and for the benefit of all.

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In the weeks to come we will explore the significance of these models in relation to our experiences, to how words are defined, to biblical terms for salvation, and biblical concepts for life.

What is the Gospel? Part 10–A Peculiar Way of Understanding Law and Gospel?

In the last post, we considered the gospel on Judgment Day.  Only people who succeed in contradicting, renouncing, and despising the gospel will experience a resurrection to judgment. Such people not only opposed God in time but also in eternity, body and soul. Consider the rich man who wouldn’t even give the beggar scraps from the floor under his table (Luke 16:23-31).

The law of God (natural and moral) is only an obstacle when we oppose God and His design for our life. As living souls, regenerated in the image of Christ, the law is our floor, not a ceiling. The law is our tutor, to continually bring us to Christ. Christ IS the gospel in all its fullness. The gospel inspires us to live for the love of others because Christ lives to love us, fully and inexhaustibly. Given the nature of the gospel, we ask different questions now. Rather than wonder how a person can be saved, we wonder how a person can NOT be saved, since God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself? Maybe a person could if he succeeded in contradicting, renouncing, and despising the gospel to the end . . . but why would anyone want to?

This concludes the “What is the Gospel?” series.  If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them.  Please send me any additional thoughts that you have.

Sneak peek to what’s coming with the next post:  Jesus once asked, “Why can’t you understand what I am saying? Because My Word has no place in you.” What place is there for truth and grace in a post-Darwinian/Freudian world? What world does the Bible speak about and how can that be communicated in our time?

What is the Gospel? Part 9–Judgment Day

But what happens to us on Judgment Day? Even if all the blessings of the gospel considered so far were true, what if we are still condemned at the end of the world? According to Jesus, such a shocking reversal of the gospel is not possible. For everyone generated by and living in His Word, the last day is a resurrection of life (John 5:29). Here we will find a perfect body restored to us in a re-created heaven and earth.

What is the Gospel? Part 8–Good Works

All of God’s good news for us and good work for us moves through us as goodness toward others, in word and deed. In Matthew 7, Jesus explained that “a good tree bears good fruit . . . it cannot bear bad fruit.” Fruit can’t make the tree that bears it. Neither can our good works make us good. God’s good work in us is evidence of His good work in us and evidence of His good will toward others; He is the Father and Redeemer of us all.

What is the Gospel? Part 7–Dependability

While our soul is regenerated by God’s inspired Word and, therefore, fully convinced of truth and grace, the corruption in our human nature always contradicts that.  Doubt is an inescapable and relentless characteristic of the corruption in us that opposes God. Therefore, God gives confirmation (physical evidence) of His grace toward us through the sacraments. In each of the three sacraments, God joins a physical element to His Word:

  • Once in our lifetime a pastor (in public) or another Christian applies water with God’s promises and a baptism has taken place.
  • Every Sunday (or more often), bread and wine are consecrated by God’s Word and are then given to provide physical, objective, and repeated evidence that God’s promises are upon us and within us.
  • Any time doubts bother us, we may confess these doubts and any other kind of failure that upsets us to another Christian who is ready, on behalf of God, to remind us, with words spoken or written, that our sins have been and remain forgiven.

“Confirmation,” in the biblical use of the Word, is always God’s work. God’s work and dependability is another aspect of the goodness of the good news.

What is the Gospel? Part 6–Inspiration

Now we know of four aspects of the gospel: three of them taking care of the contrary nature of our body (forgiveness, atonement, imputation of righteousness) and one that re-creates our soul in the image of Christ. Next, consider how God feeds, energizes, and animates that regenerate soul with His inspired Word. Just as God’s breath (Spirit) brought Adam to life, ever since then God’s Spirit, conveyed to us in His Word, restores and energizes our new life. The energy God gives our soul is “smart” energy—the Word that conveys the Spirit and power of God actually knows what to do in our lives. As articulation adds meaning to our breath when we speak, so also the Son of God adds knowledge, understanding, meaning, and guidance to His Breath as it comes to us in His Word.

What is the Gospel? Part 5–Regeneration

The gospel, as we have considered so far, includes three elements: forgiveness, atonement, and imputed perfection. Next, consider that God actually regenerates our soul. He makes it new, recreating our essence in the image of His own Son, Jesus.  Consider the following Bible passages: “Unless a person is generated from above, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven … unless a person is generated of water and the Spirit (the Word of God) he cannot see the kingdom of heaven” (John 3). “Whoever is generated of God does not sin; indeed, he cannot because he has been generated of God” (1 John 3:9).

In this way we live our lives.  The essence of our being—a new regenerate soul—is always about doing, thinking, and saying what is right.  But this nature is overlaid with a contrary human nature. Like Paul, we know there is good at work in us but that is always resisted and twisted by our human nature; thus, Paul’s complaint in Romans 7.