The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Intersection of Heaven & Earth; Holy Intercourse

[ The ] Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
Luke 1:35

The wisdom of probing the depths of the insemination of the People of God with the Holy Spirit of God might well be called into question because of the intimate nature of the subject. One might also question in return, if this is not part of the problem in American Christianity today! Whether because of our Puritanical conditioning or what, most Christians are afraid to go there, at least in public! We seem to be embarrassed about the sexuality that our Heavenly Father built into us. Now I can see the point of not walking around au naturel all the time, or engaging ( with your wife, of course ) in sexual intercourse just anywhere, especially in public, but why is it even taboo to talk ( or think ) about; why is the act of sexual intercourse viewed almost as dirty?

Well; the wrong practice of sexual intercourse ( 'sex', for short ) is definitely prohibited in Scripture, and looked down on as sin by most if not all Christians! Although not in so many words maybe, Scripture prohibits sexual relations outside The Bonds of Marriage, and it is definitely frowned upon by most Christians,and is not a wise endeavor in any case! Probably the clearest and most familiar or famous injunction against 'sex' outside marriage is based in the 7th Commandment, 'You shall not commit adultery'; put simply, and according to accepted definition, adultery is, 'sex between a married person and someone who is not that person's wife or husband'. So then, one might wonder, 'is it okay to just have sexual relations with just anyone as long as you are not married, and the person with whom you want to have intercourse is not married?' In that case then, 'why get married?'.

The Hebrew Scriptures, most notably Deuteronomy 22:22-30, on the Laws of Sexual Morality, make no clear distinction between sexual relations with a married woman or one who is betrothed; in both cases the perpetrator is to die. Depending on the situation, the woman might be stoned to death as well! If, however, the woman was not betrothed or married, the man simply had to make arrangements with the woman's father ( bride-price ) and marry the woman.

John 8:2-7 chronicles the story of The Woman Caught in Adultery. Although certain manuscripts do not contain this story, and its authenticity is thus questioned by some, it seems very possible or even probable that this actually occurred! Jesus was famous for challenging the Pharisees concept of the Law, so when they brought Him a woman caught in adultery ( the text does not say whether this alleged act happened inside or outside the city ); He reminded them, first of all, or the actual tenets of their Law, that the man involved must also be stoned to death, and then subtly pointed to none yet all of them, and to them that he among them who had not also committed this heinous act should throw the first stone! Note that the text does not say either whether the woman was either married or betrothed!

Fornication, which Scripture, both Hebrew & Greek, does speak very strongly against, is popularly defined as 'consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other'. Fornication, unlike physical adultery, includes illicit sexual intercourse between two people who are not married at all, not just to each other! 

Fornication, or 'porneia' in the Greek, is used in the context of the spiritual adultery of Israel! One may ask then, or wonder, 'does it still apply today?' If, according to the doctrine of Fulfilled Eschatology, all has been fulfilled, then are there still those outside the City? Does that still apply today?  Are there those who are In, and those who are Out? Are there still those today committing spiritual adultery?

The act of Sexual Intercourse, whereby a man enters into a woman in maybe one of the most intimate ways possible, is not in itself a dirty or corrupt thing; on the contrary, it can be one of the most beautiful events in a persons life! When used wrongly, either for selfish pleasure, or outside the Bonds of Marriage ( and please don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that 'pleasure' is an invalid reason for 'sex' ), the act is then corrupted & defiled until &; if it is sealed by a Covenant of Marriage! 'Sex' between two individuals who are married, but not to each other, carries its own set of problems!

When Jesus was born of Mary, or rather, when He was first conceived in her womb, Heaven Itself entered into Earth, or metaphorically, the Land! This Intersection brought to Reality the Promise of the Presence, that can be seen throughout the Scriptures. Jesus, as Man on the Land, was also He who dwelt in the Heavens, so when these two were brought together, the New Temple that Jesus spoke of in John 2:19-21, was formed!

The question that now comes to mind is, 'was Yahweh married to Israel before or after the Immaculate Conception?' And, 'if He was not married, but simply betrothed, does that mean sexual intercourse acceptable within the Bonds of Betrothal?' The reader must decide for himself ( or herself ), but let that one remember as well that we live in a much different culture and a much different time than they.

For we are members of His body,[d] of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[e]This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:30-32

If the apostle Paul compares the the union of man & woman to the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, how ought we as the Body of Christ & the Temple of the Holy Spirit conduct ourselves when it comes to our sexual relation as man & wife?

This is now bone of my bones

And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.

Genesis 2:23

Charles Hadddon Shank

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Gifts of the Spirit: Cessation or Continuation

With the fulfillment of 'all things which are written' ( Luke 21:22 ), it is becoming more and more popular to believe & live as all these thing have ceased! However, those run head-long into a few problems; if there is no more Baptism of the Holy Spirit, for instance, who is converting the nations, and how are individuals entering into Communion with our Heavenly Father every day?

 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-13

Although it could be argued, and quite correctly, in a sense, that the apostle's statement is eschatological in nature, the question should be asked here, 'if the Gifts ( of the Holy Spirit ) have ceased, why do we still employ some or all of them in today's Church?' 'Has the entire Church reached the 'fullness of Christ'? ( okay, I may have to concede a bit on that one; Paul was referring to the indwelling that Jesus promised in John 14 ) In today's Church, though, there are those who have not yet realized this 'fullness' as being present; it is those who have need for 'pastors and teachers', as well as those Gifts mentioned in I Corinthians 12:4-10

In the sense that our Heavenly Father has taken up residence in His New Temple ( John 14:23 ( I Corinthians 6:19 ),  the Church has reached the 'fullness of Christ'', but the Church, as the Kingdom, is ever-expanding, and thus, in that sense, has need still of 'The Gifts of the Spirit ( I Corinthians 14 )

On a Corporate level, then, the Church has reached full maturity, and attained this 'stature', but on a personal &; individual level, there are those within the Body ( as well as those outside ) who have not yet reached that level of maturity, so it is for these that the Gifts must be employed! 

Another reason for the Continuation of the Gifts is elaborated well in the apostle's words to the Church at Corinth ( I Corinthians 12:11 ), 'But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills'. It could be argued that since the Holy Spirit was an eschatological phenomenon , that He is no longer relevant to our present situation! However, this is where many traditional Trinitarians get it wrong; by making too much of a distinction between, as they say, 'the three persons of the God-head', it causes some believers to go too far the other way, and claim that since the Fulfillment of the Eschaton, and now that our Heavenly Father has become 'all in all' ( I Corinthians 15:28 ), that there is no more Holy Spirit, or at least that the Gifts & Baptism of the Holy Spirit have ceased.

As our Heavenly Father is Eternal, so in that sense are His Gifts Eternal! He still gives the Gifts as needed and where warranted! The Fact of the Matter is that men are still men; just as in the apostle Paul's day, where 'God has dealt to each one a measure of faith' , so in our day, there are varying levels of faith. Some believe that they 'may eat all things' ( Romans 14:2 ), while others esteem '[ one] day above another' ( Romans 14:5 ). As the case may be, not every individual has reached the same level of maturity within the Body! It is those who must be taught, not the knowledge of God, though there are arguably those as well, but the fullness of our Freedom in Christ, and what it truly means that we are 'free indeed' ( John 8:36 )!

Since we ( corporately ) have received this 'fullness', let us employ His Gifts as well, when & where needed, trusting to our Heavenly Fathers Provision, Wisdom & Guidance, as we act the part of 'healing leaves' in our area of the world. Let us Continue to edify the Body with the Gifts which our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us, and which Shine out through us! If our Gift is to teach, let us teach those who need teaching, if love, those who need loving, if different tongues, those who need to hear in different tongues, if healing, those who need healing; remembering always that it is the Spirit within who shines out through our action!

Glorying & Gloriously, 
Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Conversion of Israel

No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. 
Jeremiah 31:34

And so all Israel will be saved,[g] as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 
for this [ is ] My covenant with them,when I take away their sins.[h]
Romans 11:26 & 27

Most Christians believe that the above passage, from the apostle Paul's letter to the Church in Rome, indicates a future mass-conversion of the Jews. Some even go so far as saying that the former passage indicates that the New Covenant was for the Jews only!One might wonder, and this is apparently a valid matter for discussion in certain circles, if Scripture is at all applicable for us, particularly the Law!

The first question we might ask, in regards to the statement that 'all Israel will be saved' is, 'who is Israel ( in Paul's reference )?' Was Paul referring to his 'countrymen[a] according to the flesh' ( Romans 9:3 )? It would seem so, for the immediate context would seem to demand it! A closer look, however, might yield a different result upon further examination!

Taking a look at the first part of what we know as chapter 11, but keeping in mind Paul's disclaimer in Romans 9:6-8, we can see that his hope is not for all of Israel ( 'according to the flesh ' ), but rather that of 'a remnant according to the election of grace'. The apostle Paul 'sees' the latter Israel, and not the former being saved 'in toto'!

Present-day prognosticators, especially, look at evangelistic efforts and progress in the land that we now know as Israel, as 'signs of the times' ( Matthew 16:3 ), but this does not signal the Eschaton, nor fulfill Paul's prophesy in Romans 11! It does fulfill Scripture in that the nation/state of Israel is simply one of the nations that will be healed through the continuing ministry of the Anointed One! In that sense, and that sense alone, will the Jews be saved at some point in our future!

Israel, or 'the Israel of God', as the apostle called them ( Galatians 6:16 ) was 'born again' ( John 3:7 ), being reckoned 'sons of the resurrection' ( Luke 20:36 )! This conversion was inaugurated during the ministry of Jesus, but began in earnest with the giving of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts 2. It was fulfilled in The Marriage of Heaven & Earth, whereas our Heavenly Father made His abode, once more, and in finality, in the midst of His People!

The conversion of the nations is still taking place today, through His Continuing Ministry! It is through His People that His Knowledge & Glory is spread abroad, shining His Light into the darkest corners of the world! As we shine His Light into the darkest areas of our 'world', let us remember that though all Israel was saved, all of our Heavenly Fathers Children will eventually be converted and enter into a lasting Communion with Him!

Glory be, 
Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Kingdom, the Power & the Glory

We have noted throughout this study that the historical and covenantal context of our Lord's Model Prayer demands a first-century fulfillment to and for Jesus' contemporary audience. His audience, being Jews, for the most part, if they knew their History, would have recognized the references that He made. Because of this, this prayer was fulfilled through His Ministry, as it was fulfilled in His People!

We saw as well, how this prayer is still valid today, as we strive for our daily sustenance, forgive as we have been forgiven, and strive to keep each other from straying into temptation. Though His Kingdom has come and His will is done on Earth as it is in Heaven, there is yet work for us to do to see His Kingdom evident in His Natural Creation ( unbelieving humans ), and His Revealed Will being done throughout!

In many texts, the words 'For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen' can be read at the end of The Lord's Prayer! These texts, or manuscripts, are later ones, and earlier texts do not contain these words. Though they may be just a later addition, these words ring true, and confirm, or reaffirm the line near the beginning, 'Your kingdom come'! It IS His Kingdom, His Power and His Glory!

No more should we pray for His Kingdom to come, or His will to be done 'On earth as [ it is ] in heaven', especially as we understand that He was speaking covenantally, of His People Israel, those who were involved in the Marriage of Heaven & Earth! As the Offspring of that Marriage though, we should work toward the end, as Israel of old was called to do, of being the 'leaves of the tree' that were for 'the healing of the nations'. His Will is done in His Kingdom, which has come in the form of His New Creation!

We are His New Creation & His New Temple, and therefore His Kingdom on Earth, which has been Married to Heaven! As we seek & do His Will, let us remember that it is in us, and through our actions that His Will is done, for in Him & through Him, we are the Kingdom, the Power & the Glory!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

'This Land is Our Land'!

No more hunker in the bunker!

'We have met the enemy, and he is us'! This familiar line from the 40s and 50s comic strip 'Pogo' seems to be taking on new meaning of late. Many folks are starting to realize that the corrupt government that they have allowed to fester is starting to assert their unlawful authority in places where it most hurts; at home, and over our very livelihoods!

Say what you will about the recent ( and very tense ) situation ( stand-off, really ) in and around Bunkerville, Nevada, or even about Cliven Bundy himself, and his somewhat questionable activities over the years, he had every right to use public lands for his own purposes, especially as a tax-paying citizen, as long as he wasn't hurting anyone in the process ( Harry Reid & the Desert Tortoise don't count |)!

The Bureau of Land Management, as I understand it from the moniker itself, is simply to be a manager of Federal, or public lands. Just like the Federal Government itself, BLM is simply to act the part of our stewards, using our tax-dollars to serve and protect our interests! They were hired by the People, to work for the People, and in reality, are of the people!

That's the way it's supposed to be, anyway! The Federal Government, in the greatest sense, is of the people, but no longer are they by or for the People; anymore, 'they' are governed ( and peopled ) by the Elite, and protect & serve those Elite!

Militant Patriots, both men and women, answered the Call of Duty when they heard that one of their own was under siege! Around a thousand of these patriots flocked to the Bundy Ranch, ready to loose whatever mayhem they could ( and it wouldn't have been pretty ) on those Federal Officers, should the need arise! Thousands more were prepared, at a moments notice, to join them in the Fight! If things had continued to escalate, and the Federal Officers had not backed down, the ensuing battle most likely produced far more casualties in the Federal camp than in the Patriots camp!

Many thanks rightly go out to those Patriots who, under their own compulsion, and by their own means, took it upon themselves to defend a brother in need, but most of all, thanks & praise should be offer to our Heavenly Father, through Whom this near-tragedy was averted! It is from His powerful Hand that our rights come, not through the Federal Government, and not even by a piece of paper ( though these papers do uphold our rights )!

For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire;
He blesses the greedy [ and ] renounces the Lord.
The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek [ God ];
God [ is ] in none of his thoughts.

Psalm 10:3 & 4

One good thing that may be seen as stemming from such 'stand-offs, and near-tragedies, is that the people of this nation ( those that weren't already ) are waking up and realizing that, 'we had better do something before everything we have been given goes the way of the dinosaur'; people are beginning to wake up and smell the coffee burning! Cattle rustlers, though they may be a dying breed, are still very much alive and they know their time is short, so they're kickin' it while 'they' can! 

As situations like this are beginning to occur on a daily basis all across this nation under God, many are beginning to wonder how long it will be & how much more the American people will take before they rise up and put down their oppressors! Can the Good People of this nation, True Patriots all, take much more of the subterfuge & outright lies before they erupt into a Civil War ( what's so civil about war, anyway? )?

This disaster was, thanks be to God, averted ( for the time being )! With that kind of Power behind us, one that change change minds & hearts, one might well wander, can even this disaster ( Civil War ) be averted? The answer is, 'YES'; it can be averted, and will be averted if and when the People of God, the True Patriots, are encouraged to get off their asses an do what we should have been doing all along, being the fragrance of Christ to a world that desperately needs Him!

To this End, 
Charles Haddon Shank

The Complete Jesus

The most important thing to remember when approaching the last sayings of Jesus on the cross is what He first taught, and in fact, what His entire ministry was about, the Coming of the Kingdom & the Parousia!

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Luke 23:34

For good exegesis of any particular passage of Scripture, one must first look at the immediate context, then the wider context! Much as it may seem so sometimes, Jesus, Paul & the apostles were not in the habit of saying random things at random moments. When Jesus spoke these words, the immediate context in Luke shows that the two thieves had just been placed, one on either side of Him, to be crucified in like manner as our Lord. Later in this passage, we see that Jesus Himself granted forgiveness to at least one of the thieves.

It is widely accepted, and no doubt true, to some extent, that when Jesus uttered the words of this prayer, He prayed for the forgiveness of His captors & murderers, the ignorant though zealous Jews, and the Romans, who, though wicked & evil men, were simply being politically savvy!

In Jesus' model prayer, which He taught His disciples to pray; He instructed them to pray for forgiveness 'for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us' ( Luke 11:4 ) Jesus, like Paul, no doubt had concern for His kinsmen according to the flesh; He would see them all saved, and so He prayed for their forgiveness.

In the wider context too, of the History of Israel, we should be reminded as well of the atrocities that Israel had committed throughout; not only had She many times committed spiritual adultery against Her God, but now, to top it all off, She had denied Her Messiah! This was simply a natural progression!

There still exists some controversy today over whom Jesus prayed for forgiveness; 'was He asking His Father to forgive everybody, or was He simply asking forgiveness for a certain few?' Much disagreement, especially in certain circles, comes when questions like, 'if Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of everyone involved, why were they not all saved?' are posed. 'Did the Father heed His Son's final prayer?'

In an earthly context, though we may forgive any evil committed against us, there is usually a price that must be paid, nonetheless. Take the example of a drunk driver who aimlessly kills another driver; though he may be forgiven by the family of the other driver, the penalty for the crime of murder, however more or less severe, is exacted by Law!

Though forgiven, Israel still bore the penalty, through the Christ, for Her sins! Though  the Thief on the Cross was forgiven, he was still crucified, and paid the extreme penalty for his sins! 

When Jesus prayed, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do', the immediate context demands that the sin of rejection of their Messiah be forgiven His People, but in the wider context of the History of Israel, it should be clear that the sins of His People as a whole, throughout their history, were in view here as well, for the rejection of their Messiah was simply the latest show of their ignorance of the Nature of God!

And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Luke 23:43

This subject as well is quite the air of controversy surrounding it! Was Jesus telling the Thief on the Cross that he would be with Jesus in Abraham's Bosom that day? Was He simply telling him that he would be joining Jesus on His trip into the nether regions (I Peter 3:18-20 ); or was Jesus telling him that He would rest that day in the arms of his Lord? 

Well, as with so many passages in Scripture that have been wrangled by would be expositors, and hopelessly mangled by others; to truly understand what Jesus meant, we must return to the original Paradise: yes, 'we've got to get ourselves back to the garden'!

Assumably, Genesis 3:8 tells us that our Heavenly Father used to walk with Adam & Eve 'in the cool of the day'. After they sinned, however, and were removed from the Presence of the Lord in the Garden, we do not hear, except for a select few, of the descendants of Adam ever walking with the Lord, that is, not till the Advent of Jesus who was the Christ! The Presence of God, except for special considerations, was removed from Man on the Land!

One of Jesus' most Precious Promises, and we get a foretaste of this in the Temple Imagery throughout the Scriptures, was that 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him' ( John 14:23 ). It was this Promise of Presence that was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost by the Holy Spirit in the form of 'divided tongues, as of fire' ( Acts 2 )!

Just like Christmas, it's all about the Presence! Jesus was not telling the Thief on the Cross that he would be in limbo ( some might call it 'Purgatory' or even 'Hell' ) till He returned in Judgement to redeem His People from the power of the grave; He was telling him that He would forever be with his Lord!

When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own [ home ].
John 19: 26 & 27

John was traditionally the disciple whom Jesus loved! We will assume, for the time being, and for our purposes here, that John was indeed, 'the disciple whom He loved'. If John, though, 'why John?' And why would John, in his Record of the Gospel, find it necessary to relate, when no other Gospel-writer did, these words of Jesus? They must hold some significance, for, as we have seen, no passage of Scripture is without significance!

Maybe Jesus' words to the disciples in Matthew's Gospel ( 19:29 ), 'And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[k] or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life'! Could this, as so many passages in Scripture, have been purposely linked to the Resurrection? Jesus, in the beginning of this short passage, promised that 'in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel'! Could Jesus, as a dutiful eldest Son, have merely been holding to tradition and making sure that His mother ( Joseph may have passed on by this point ) would be taken care? 

We must remember too, that at the Voice of the Son of God ( Matthew 4:22, Mark 1:20 ), John and his brother James had left all to follow Him! ( their mother was not mentioned here, but we may safely assume that if they left their father, that they left their mother as well ) Was Jesus, in a metaphorical sense, replacing John's own mother? Mary, in this same metaphorical sense, was representative of a New & Reconstituted Israel, and in the greatest sense ( metaphorically as well- Revelation 12 ), the birth mother of the Church!

By telling John that Mary was now his mother, and His Mother that John was her now Son, I believe that Jesus was making reference to  the New Age, the Age in which Son-ship would not be rendered by physical, or natural, lineage, but by spiritual descent! Remember what Jesus replied when He was told that His family sought His Presence? Pointing to His disciples all around, He said, 'Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.' ( Matthew 12:49 & 50 ) 

After this, Jesus, knowing[e] that all things were now accomplished, 
that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst'!
John 19:28

This may seem the clearest saying of Jesus on the Cross! Thirst is the most natural and pressing need, more important, probably, than most think to our human biology. It would be very natural then, especially after all that Jesus had been through that Day, for Him to be thirsty, but as usual, there is more to this saying than might at first meet the eye!

Jesus told His audience, in His Sermon on the Mount, 'Blessed [ are ] those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled' ( Matthew 5:6 ). In John's own record of the Gospel, Jesus told the woman at the well 'Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst' ( John 4:13 &14a ) Was Jesus simply thirsty, or was this a reminder to His disciples of the thirst that He bore for them? He had taken upon Himself the sin of His People Israel, and bearing the penalty for their rebelliousness, experienced that 'thirst for righteousness'!

Just a note here; in the Gospel according to Matthew ( 27:34 ), we see some sort of drink being offered to Jesus, as we see Him being given in John's record. In Matthew's record, however, He refused, for whatever reason, to drink, and in John's, it is recorded  that He 'received the sour wine'. Varying traditions have said that this 'sour wine', or 'gall' was some sort of numbing agent meant to alleviate some of the pain, and that Jesus refused it because He wished for His mind to remain clear, or even that John's record and Matthew's do not coincide on this event, but, whatever the case may be, this was not just some random saying that John decided to record; it, as all of Jesus' words, had a Deeper Impact!

 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”[k]
Matthew 27:46

Quoting the first line of David's Psalm 22, the Son of Man cried out in agony to a Father who had left Him to die one of the most painful deaths imaginable! This is what the casual reader might gather, and this might actually be true, but it is only a part of the Story. Did the Father Forsake His Son? Might we glean a clue from the fact that His persecutors thought He was calling for Elijah?

Whether or not those who crucified Him simply misunderstood His words ( unlikely ) because they did not understand Aramaic ( many of them were Syrians, after all ) or because He was speaking through His pain, it is clear that He spoke these exact words in fulfillment of David's prophetic verse! As in many of the sayings of Jesus, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?' was uttered 'that the Scripture might be fulfilled'!

Just like 'I thirst' previously, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?' was meant to convey a deeper spiritual truth, one which not just anyone would be able to grasp! Clearly, His captors, both Jewish & Roman ( Syrian ) did not grasp this truth; they thought He was calling for Elijah! An interesting note concerning Elijah; do you remember what Malachi prophesied about Him? 'Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.' ( Malachi 4:5 ) They thought, if our English translators got it right, that Jesus was praying for that 'great and dreadful day of the Lord' right then! If He was truly the Son of God, so they must have reasoned at that point, then His Father would have appeared right then. Little did they know, the Time was at Hand ( Matthew 26:64 )!

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” 
And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
John 19:30

What exactly Jesus meant by the finality of these words has been a matter of some controversy, as well! Was He saying that the purpose for which He had appeared on this earth was fulfilled? Was He saying that His Father's Plan of Salvation was complete, that the rest was up to individual men? Now that it was finished, did that mean that all men everywhere would taste His great Salvation?

Matthew recorded that Joseph & Mary were to name the Child Jesus, for 'He will save His people from their sins' ( Matthew 1:21 ). Clearly, from a covenantal stand-point, 'His people' was Israel! The Purpose for which Jesus died on the cross was that He might redeem Israel from the Sin & the Death that She had incurred from Her harlotries & idolatries!The Purpose of His Advent, from beginning to End, from start to finish, was to bring Heaven & Earth together in One Body, that Body of which He had before prophesied ( also through David ( Psalm 40:6 ), 'Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me'. There have been numerous theories offered as to why the two texts are at variance, but maybe the best I have seen is where Lightfoot wrote, 

'The words, 'a body has thou prepared for me', follow the Septuagint, in keeping with the usual preference of the author. The Hebrew text, however, literally reads, 'ears hast thou digged for me,' which apparently means that God has given man ears to hear that he might obey Him. The Septuagint translators dealt freely with the text by substituting the whole ('body') for the part ('ears'), resulting in the meaning that instead of God equipping man with ears, He made or prepared for man a body'.

Whatever the case may be, a Body was most definitely prepared for the Son of God, first an individual biological Body to walk the Land in, and then a corporate Spiritual Body ( I Corinthians 12:27 ) to dwell in, a New Temple, 'the temple of the Holy Spirit' ( I Corinthians 6:19 )!

With the words 'It is finished', Jesus declared that He had done what was necessary to accomplish the salvation of His people, He had made 'an end of[b] sins' and 'reconciliation for iniquity' ( Daniel 9:24 )!

And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, 
He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’”[n]
 Having said this, He breathed His last.
Luke 23:46

In this last recorded saying of Jesus on the Cross, we see Him in total concurrence with Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:7. This wisest of the kings of Israel wrote 'Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,

and the spirit will return to God who gave it.' Many questions could be asked here of those who believe that Jesus still inhabits His individual, biological Body in some place 'up there', called 'Heaven'. Questions like
'If Jesus was God, why did His Spirit return to His Father ( God ) when His Body would be joining Him just over a month later?', and leading from this, 'why was it necessary for Jesus' Spirit to leave His Body?'

Here is where we might enter into the greatest matter of controversy! Was Jesus simply a 'Man of the Eschaton'? Is it possible that Jesus, as the Son of God, and God Himself, became the Son of Man in order to finalize the project He had begun in the Beginning ( Genesis )? Jesus said outright, at least once, that 'My Father is greater than I' ( John 14:28 ( 10:29 ). He prayed, in the Garden, 'O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was'. Paul wrote that 'He made Himself of no reputation', took 'the form of a bondservant', and came 'in the likeness of men'. Our Heavenly Father divested Himself of His Glory and became the Son of Man in order to orchestrate the Marriage of Heaven & Earth!

In all of this, we see a return to the Temple! Ezekiel 10:18, as well as other Scriptures, chronicles the departure of the Glory of the Lord. In a recent sermon it was pointed out that the Shekinah Glory, the Glory Cloud, is absent from the Temple from the time of Solomon onward, until the time of Christ and His New Temple, which we read about in Acts 2, with the 'divided tongues, as of fire'.

 The apostle John recorded Jesus as saying, in what may be the most comforting statement in Scripture, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him'. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Church at Colosse ( 3:4 ), wrote 'When Christ [ who is ] our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory'. Since He has appeared ( 1,934 years ago ), His People have become that Glory Cloud!

The Life & Ministry of Jesus may be summed up in these final words, for Jesus came to 'save His people from their sins' by forgiving there iniquity, He 'led captivity captive' ( Psalm 68:18 ( I Peter 3:18-20 ), He came that we might have Life, and that we may have it 'more abundantly' ( John 10:10 ( also refer to Psalm 68:5 & 6 & Matthew 12:49 & 50 ), He filled His People's 'thirst for righteousness' that they might 'never thirst' again, He tasted for His People very real separation from the Presence of God, 'And thus we shall always be with the Lord' ( I Thessalonians 4:17 ), He finished the Creation, or rather New Creation that He had begun in the Beginning ( Genesis ), and He became, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth ( I Corinthians 15:28 ) our 'all in all'!

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;

Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Psalm 150:1

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise,[a] be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
I Timothy 1:17

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, April 18, 2014


Sunday will mark the 1,980th time, ostensibly, since that first Blessed Event which most of the Christian world calls Easter! Some call it Resurrection Sunday, for it is the day Jesus rose from the grave those many years ago ( Hallelujah! ). Whether you call it Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday, our celebration of Jesus' Resurrection is traditional! For some Christians it's also one of several times in the year that they attend worship services, too!

This is not to say that traditions are ( necessarily ) a bad thing, although the over-commercialization ( as bad as Christmas ) and Easter Egg Hunts and such are not, I'm sure what the apostles envisioned! The Easter Egg Hunt, though, when you think about it, is actually kind of a decent picture of  a metaphorical search for Resurrection! The egg is a picture of birth ( although we tend to eat most of them ), and when they are hidden for the children to search for and find, it could almost be viewed as their search for the True Life of the World! The Easter Bunny, on the other hand, is merely a picture of natural life, chosen because of the prolificity of rabbits. However you choose to look at it though, theses are all symbols, pointing to something more or less great!

Life is a good thing; as long as life endures, there is hope for a better tomorrow! Lately, I have been involved in discussions about whether we, as believers holding to a fulfilled eschatology are taking away the Christians hope for the 'after-life'. My response, of course, was that this is the 'after-life'; we are in the Presence of our Heavenly Father, and according to Jesus ( John 14:23 ) we will never die! 'Is there life after ( physical ) death?' Of course; after our biological body ceases to function, we will continue on in the Presence of our Heavenly Father! Our Eternal Life, however, does not begin at the death of our biology, when our spirit departs from this physical body; it is a Present Reality!


Scripture tells us that Jesus rose on the first day of the week ( Matthew 28:1-7 ), and so, ever after, Christians have celebrated on this Day, mostly in the hope of our, or more correctly 'their' future resurrection! Many celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus in a more general way, as a memorial, a Celebration of Life, but still with the underlying notion that because Jesus' physical Body was raised from the physically dead, so too will ours!

Whether or not one chooses to cling to this biblically disjointed hope or not, it is clear that He is alive forever more, and thus, so are we! The Resurrection of the Christ proved to a watching world that Death had, in effect, been defeated. To merely rise from the dead and ascend ( in the Spirit ) to His former Glory at the Right Hand of the Father would have proven nothing concrete to those who scoffed! As the case may be, the Truth of the Resurrect was hidden from the eyes of the majority, and many perished because of their disbelief!

That Blessed Hope!

For most Christians, the thought of 'Heaven when you die' means a blessed & eternal existence after we are free of the cumbersome & sin-laden when this physical body is no longer a concern; this is based, maybe, and however loosely, on the apostle Paul's words to the Church at Rome, 'O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?' ( Romans 7:24 ) Other statements of Paul's, such as 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God', seem almost to lend credence to the Gnostic notion that the apostle was looking forward to the demise of his physicality so he could 'depart and be with Christ' ( Philippians 1:23 ), for, as he said elsewhere, 'while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord' ( II Corinthians 5:6 ). We have seen though, in the historical and covenantal context in which Paul wrote, it was not individual biological bodies that he had in mind, but rather that Old Covenant 'Body of Death'!

As the Blessed Hope of the Christian is fulfilled in the Body of Christ, although most Christians, for whatever reason, feel the need to cling desperately to some sort of hope, we can have confidence in the fact that since we are 'raised with Christ' ( Colossians 3:1 ), we can now 'walk in newness of life' ( Romans 6:4 )! The only hope for tomorrow is that we will better do this!

Living in the Resurrection!

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4

Jesus said ( Luke 20:34-36 ), concerning The Resurrection of the Body, 'The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.' It would seem that this would support the notion of such an 'after-life' as many like to speculate about, because if there will be no 'marrying and giving in marriage' ( Matthew 24:38 ) in the Resurrection ( thus, in 'Heaven'? ), then it would only make sense that He was not speaking of this physical existence!

However, as we have seen previously, it is abundantly clear that Jesus was referring to this physical existence, since, as the apostle Paul further stated in the continuing Ministry of the Gospel, 'Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.' ( Colossians 3:5 ) Because of the Fact of the Resurrection, Paul instructed them to forsake their earthly natural passions, and so walk in 'newness of life'. He did not encourage them to forsake this earth and seek some 'after-life' in 'Heaven'!

It is not by departing this life that we live in the Resurrection; it is by living that we live in the Resurrection!

In conclusion then, how should we now live? We should not live in the hope for a better life after this biology has been depleted; that's just jumping in with  those who claim that 'the body is a prison-house for the soul'! To live Resurrection Life is to live in the knowledge and abundance of Christ, it is to live in the 'liberty by which Christ has made us free' ( Galatians 5:1 ).

If we live in the hope for a better life in 'Heaven', not seeking to better our lives, and the lives of those around us, then we have 'counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing' ( Hebrews 10:29 ), for it was for this that Jesus died, not that we would someday have a better life in some ethereal ( or is that 'surreal' ? ) 'Heaven', but as He Himself said, 'I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly' ( John 10:10 )

It is in this Life ( John 11:25 ) that we must live if we are to have this Abundant Life!

If we have this Life, nothing else is necessary; if we do not have this Life now, nothing else will suffice, not even the death of our biological body!

Back to tradition; it is good to be reminded that the Christ defeated death, even if we only gather once a year in special remembrance of this Blessed Event! It is a far better thing, though, to live Resurrection Life, basking in the Glow of His Presence, which was made possible by that Resurrection! 

Let us live the Life we have been blessed with, and not seek to depart it to 'always be with the Lord'!

Glorying in the Presence, 
Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Glorified Body; the Gravity of Christ In Us

There is much focus of late, both the religious and so-called secular camps, on 'Heaven' & the 'After Life'!  'Is there life after death?' and what is 'Heaven really like?'; 'is there a 'heaven'?' are just of few of the questions being considered. The real question is, though, should we consider them at all!?

With so much of a focus on what happens to us when this physical body perishes, is it any wonder that the mission of the evangelical church seems to have simply become 'saving souls for the after-life', so that they can go to 'Heaven' instead of 'Hell' when they die!? If we are simply to save souls for some utopian after-life, why then does the apostle John, in the Revelation ( 22:2 ) say that 'The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.' If Salvation & Heaven are about some sort of neo-physical after-life, then why would God even worry about healing the nations? Isn't He going to just destroy everything anyway, like Peter warns in II Peter 3?

In a previous article on the subject of 'the Glorified Body'; we discussed what for the Church has become a stanchion for the doctrine of Resurrection. Because Jesus was raised up in His biological Body, so must we. The Son of God returned to biological existence ( for a while ) in the selfsame Body that was placed in the tomb, three significant days earlier!

Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Romans 8:30

The same Greek verb, 'doxaz┼Ź' that Jesus uses in His prayer, 'And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.' ( John 17:5 ) is the same word that Paul used above to describe our Glorified Body! As we discussed in short previously, we would like to speculate that our individual human bodies will become super-human in their glorified state, but Scripture doesn't give us any such picture! I must admit, though, since our Heavenly Father dwells in His People, we have, in a sense, become supermen ( and women ), able to metaphorically leap tall buildings in a single bound!

We've explored previously, as well, and to some extent, what it really means when we say that Christ is 'in us'. We read, with our individualistic mindset, phrases like 'I can do all things through Christ[b] who strengthens me' ( Philippians 4:13 ) and turn them into political catchphrases, with God promising anything from what can be clearly gleaned from the immediate context to superhuman feats 'if you just believe'!

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which[d] is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27

I would seem that the apostle Paul taught that 'the Glorified Body' was one in which Christ dwelt! We know that Paul, as a good Jew, was a student of Scripture, and as the Hebrew Scriptures ( AKA, Old Testament ) were what he studied, he undoubtedly drew upon these Scriptures for ALL of his doctrine! The Tabernacle & Temple that were prevalent throughout these Scriptures were significant of the Presence of God, His Dwelling among His People. the Promise of the New Covenant, of course, was that 'I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' ( Jeremiah 31:33 ) From of old, the Promise had always been 'I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God.' ( Exodus 29:45 - compare John 14:23 ).

As we live in 'The Truth of the Resurrection', as 'sons of the resurrection' ( Luke 20:27-38 ), let us determine to Live Gloriously, being members individually of the Body of Christ, the New Temple in which our Heavenly Father now dwells for Eternity! Let us give up vain imaginings of what glories we may see once we are free of this biological body, and focus rather on the Glory which has been set before us, that of our Heavenly Father and the continuous expansion of His Glorious Kingdom, which has come 'On Earth as it is in Heaven'!

Charles Haddon Shank