The Pagan Path

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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Wrath of God

Let me tell you a Story about the Creator of Heaven & Earth; He once upon a time chose a certain group of people out of all the nations & made them holy unto Himself! This special people were just like any other, they were doing whatever they felt they had to do for their survival & like all the other groups of people in the land, they carried with them their idols, false gods that they superstitiously thought helped & blessed them in their endeavors. Little did they know that the rain fell on the just & the unjust alike: their blessings & their cursings were showered upon them, not by the false gods they worshiped, but by the Living God, the Creator of Heaven & Earth!

Though this chosen people was nothing special & certainly not very holy in the modern sense of the word, the Creator chose these people out of all the kindreds of the earth to spread the Good News of His Kingdom! This Kingdom would not be an empire, per se, like all the nations around them; no, this Kingdom was to be one of the heart, mind, soul & strength! When His special people asked for a king like the nations around them, thus rejecting the Living God as their King, the Creator God gave them what they asked for, but this then unleashed the Wrath of God on the generations to come!

As time went by, though these special, holy people were graced by a number of good kings, those who sought the Kingdom of their Heavenly Father, most of their kings led them further & further into debauchery, idolatry & yes, adultery! In the fulness of time, after many generations of their Creator both accusing & excusing them, the Creator of Heaven & Earth, the Living God, finally, once for all, took matters into His own hands &embodied in the same flesh as those He had previously created, came to Earth & showed these special, holy people what it truly meant to love!

Through the Wrath of the Creator of Heaven & Earth bled forth the Redemption of His Son, most of whom had failed to faithfully represent Him! Through Fulfillment of the Law of the Creator, this Son appeased the Wrath of His Father & brought about the salvation of untold generations. The Father's Righteous Indignation, like any father's would be, was directed toward His children, that special people He had chosen & set apart ( made holy ) for Himself. As a Father, He has not changed, but thankfully, His People have; when His Son took upon Himself the guilt that these special, holy people bore, He changed the whole Landscape of Redemption, bringing salvation, not just to those special ones ( at least those who received His atonement ), but to all who actively trusted in Him for their redemption!

There are some today who question the Wrath of God; 'does it still exist?', 'does He still get angry at the wicked every day?' Since the Judgement of those Special People was fulfilled in the first century ( AD ), thus defeating Death ( separational ) forever, is His Wrath still brought to bear on His errant children? Well, as the Father of all & like any father, yes; His wrath is still brought to bear on His children! He is not petty, as some fathers are, demanding the love & obedience of His children, 'or else!', but He is angered by the willful disobedience & hatred of His creatures! How He chooses to release that anger or wrath looks different to different people, but it is a Righteous Indignation, not a petty wrath or anger because somebody stepped on His toes or failed to give Him the respect He deserves!

Much like His chosen people, His children today often choose to disobey His House Rules! Though sometimes His Wrath is not always immediate, we can be sure that our sins will find us out. We reap what we sow & when we live in disobedience to the House Rules, we may be sure that, sooner or later, no matter how strong the wall we've built, it's going to come crashing down on us! Is this the Wrath of God Revealed from Heaven? In the greatest sense yes, but in actuality, it's simply reaping what we have sown!

Those special people that the Creator God chose for Himself were subjected to the Flame of His Wrath! When final Judgement came upon them, their was a Remnant, a Chosen Few who escaped or came through those flames & were made stronger because of that experience; others did not survive His Wrath, but experienced Final Death, Eternal Separation from the Creator. The Wrath of God came to rest, in the first century, on His Chosen People, those through whom He had chosen to reveal His Presence to His Creation!

This is an old, old Story & though its exclusiveness came to an end in the first century, the Story continues & is now inclusive of His entire Creation! As children, there are many who still refuse to obey the House Rules & to pursue a blessed Relationship with their Heavenly Father, but things, as far as wrath stands, are a bit different now! Rather than giving us a Law written in Stone, we have His Spirit to help us live a Blessed Life. Rather than suffering His wrath when we fail to follow a written code, we have been blessed with His Presence! Those who worship false gods still receive the penalty due them, not so much because they have broken the House Rules, but because when a false god comes tumbling down, which it eventually will, it tends to cruse those who are kneeling at its feet!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Spirit of Adam

The first man [ was ] of the earth, [ made ] of dust; the second Man [ is ] the Lord from heaven.
I Corinthians 15:47 

To quote a good friend of mine, 'If you don't get Adam right, you can't get the Last Adam right.' Not sure if I would totally agree with this statement, because some who seem to have gotten Adam wrong seem to have gotten Jesus just fine! But seriously, there may be something to what my friend stated. If one doesn't acknowledge that the first Adam was simply a covenant head ( the first man with whom the Creator God made covenant ), then is it possible that they have truly missed the import of Covenantal Aspect of the Headship of Jesus?!

On the other hand, if the Adam we read about in Scripture really was the progenitor of the human race, as Creation Science would have us believe, wouldn't that explain the evil that men do? If the fallen spirit of Adam still pervades the hearts & minds of men & women the world over, then the fact that these are still in rebellion against their Creator makes all kinds of sense, right? Wait, no; that doesn't work: if Jesus the Christ, as the Last Adam, brought an end to the tyranny of Sin & Death ( Romans 5:12-21 ), then this spirit of Adam cannot exist anymore! Since Jesus took over the Headship from Adam, then Jesus, as the Last Adam, has become the Father of ALL men, right?

When asserting that the Creator God is the Father of all ( the ) living, we must be very careful, for as a dear brother once zealously ejaculated, 'my homosexual neighbor is NOT my brother!' To many Christians, it is difficult, nay impossible, to view those that Christianity has viewed as outsiders for so long as children of our Heavenly Father! Albeit rebellious children, they are children nonetheless & desperately seeking love & acceptance, though most would say, 'you're doing it wrong!'

The Spirit of Adam seems to be alive & well on Planet Earth, there is no doubt about that! Sometimes you almost can't blame all the doomsday prophets & false prognosticators; much of the crap going on in the world today, in particular the Dark Continent & the Middle East seems to leap straight from the pages of Scripture! The Rebellion of Man & the evil that men do seems to have no end or limits! It's no wonder that a vast majority ( of Christians ) think that this is the terminal generation!

Is this spirit, though, really the Spirit of Adam, or is it simply the rebellious spirit that dwells in the hearts & minds of all men & women who have not experienced The Change of Life? Though it could be argued that they are one & the same, the spirit of Adam, as the first covenant man, experienced death when he partook of the forbidden fruit. When Jesus, as the Last Adam, the Head of the New Covenant came, He took up the reins that the first man ( Adam ) had lost & resurrected in Himself the Body of Israel, He who Reigns with God!

The Scriptural Adam was unarguably the head, or father of the family of man ( Scripturally, 'the children of the devil' - John 8:44 ), whether one believes he was the first human being on planet earth or that he was the first man that the Creator God introduced Himself to! If we would posit that this same fallen nature, this same Spirit of Adam exists in certain men & women today, then we must acknowledge one of two things; either Jesus did not finish His Work ( as when He cried, 'it is finished', or the Spirit of Adam ( Man ) is stronger than the Spirit of Christ! If Adam as the first man & the federal head of humanity passed his fallen nature & the Spirit of Rebellion on to countless generations, then we would have someone besides ourselves to blame for our faults, even as those who have the Spirit of Christ, but if the first man Adam was simply the head of a nation of priests, those with whom the Creator God had made covenant in the beginning, then we can see that in the same way, Jesus became the Covenant Head of all those who have Faith in Him!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, July 27, 2015

Heaven & Earth, Jew & Gentile

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
Genesis 2:4

The issue of how to correctly identify 'the heavens and the earth' of Scripture has been hashed & rehashed over the past decade or so & still, we are no closer to a uniform position on the subject! To the majority of Christians, most likely, the answer is simple, the phrase is referring to the literal heavens ( sky ) & the literal earth ( land/globe ) or terra firma. To others, maybe, the phrase refers, in some sense, to the ministers of the Temple & the average Israelite. This position has no doubt met with some opposition because it seems to relegate the history of Genesis to a mere metaphorical story about the foundation of the Temple!  'How could Adam have been an Israelite, much less a priest ( minister ) in the Temple since neither came on the scene till many generations later?' Questions like this are unavoidable!

The construction of Genesis 1 is too interesting to ignore! The chiastic structure of Genesis 1 has a beauty beyond words! Beginning with the earth ( Land ), the Author quickly moves from there to the heavens & back, separating the two, and dizzying the reader with his literary style, first bringing order to one & life to the other. Moving back & forth, He weaves the creation account that we all, to one degree or another, have become familiar with. Heaven & earth, Adam & animals; what are we to make of it all?

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Church at Galatia, wrote 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus' ( 3:28 ). John, in the Revelation, wrote 'there was no more sea' ( 21:1 ). He who had separated the waters from the Land in the beginning had removed the separating curtain, much as He, according to Paul, had removed the distinction between Jew & Greek, or Gentile. Israel was given the task, beginning with Adam's creation, of ministering the justice, mercy & love of the Creator to the rest of His Creation; because they failed to understand His purpose for this distinction, He took matters into His own Hands & removed that distinction!

Those with more knowledge & wisdom than this poor blogger have searched out the Temple Theme throughout the Genesis Creation account! These have found that the physical Temple in Jerusalem was so ordered to represent the Hebrew cosmological understanding of the heavens & earth. The tabernacle in the wilderness, along with its furniture & priests, were patterned after this understanding as well. The separation between the special people of the Creator God & the rest of His Creation was made for a Purpose! That Purpose was hidden throughout the Scriptures ( though glimpses were seen ) & finally revealed with the Advent of His Son, the Creator Himself in human form!

The Purpose for which the Creator God made a separation in His Created Order is not a simple one to discern! Some might say that the distinction was made so that those separated ones ( holy ) might keep themselves pure for the One who sought Union with them. Others might say that the distinction was made so that we could judge between those were consigned to heaven or hell ( it's difficult for us to understand the Hebrew concept-much different than ours ). Whatever the case may be, we understand that the distinction, or separation was made for the Purpose of the Eschaton, for the Revelation of the Son of God!

Genesis begins with the creation of 'the heavens and the earth'. The Author then points to the earth, bringing order & life to it as well as to the heavens! Both earth & heavens were given their own life & order, but they shared one life that inhabited both realms, the birds, or flying creatures! This may engender another post for another time, but it is interesting to note that the birds alone of all the creatures were given wings to fly in the heavens above as well as legs to traverse the earth beneath! Only after the creation of the animals did the Creator God form man in His image. As the Author moves His shuttle back & forth across the tapestry of this first part of Genesis, we may note His focus on the earth under the Rule of Heaven!

The Creator God, He who dwelt in the heavens according to Scripture came to earth in the form of His Prime Creation. With His Advent He brought Heaven to Earth, significantly removing the separating curtain & allowing His Creation to approach His Presence; in fact, He came to dwell in our midst! The New Heavens & New Earth which John saw in the Revelation referred to the resurrected Israel, or the Church in its infancy. We may quibble over whether the Church is the New Heavens & New Earth yet today or whether we are simply the generation of the New Heavens & New Earth, but what is clear is the fact that the Creator God has made His Dwelling with ( in ) His Creation!

Charles Haddon Shank


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The End of the Law

For Christ  [ is ] the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Romans 10:4 

Simple, right?

Well, not really! There are a few factors involved here that most people don't usually think about when reading these words of Paul's. First, the context: the apostle was writing to a specific audience at a specific time in history. Previously, he wrote 'For they ( speaking of the Jews/Judaizers ) being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God'. He was reminding them, his first-century audience, that their Messiah was the Righteousness they sought; it was by accepting His Righteousness that they would be saved, not by works of the Law!

Secondly ( this follows right along ), Paul was not saying that the Law had been terminated ( though the Greek might lead one to believe thusly ), just that their reliance on it for righteousness had been terminated! Paul wrote elsewhere, 'Therefore the law was our tutor to [ bring us to ] Christ, that we might be justified by faith' ( Galatians 3:24 ). From this, we can see that the Purpose of the Law was to [ bring us to ] Christ; that is what Paul meant when he wrote to the Church in Rome, 'Christ  [ is ] the end of the law'! Not that the Law was terminated, that now they could be lawless, but that the Law had fulfilled its Purpose, that of pointing them to the Christ, or Messiah!

One might ask how the Law of Virginity ( Deuteronomy 22:13-21 ) is fulfilled in Jesus; this is a valid question! How could a loving God sentence a woman to death for not being a virgin when she married? Here again, we must allow for several different factors, most importantly context! Moses wrote this Law, at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to a people ( children ) who were to be pure, set apart & wholly unlike their neighbors around them. In our modern American culture, it has become almost a badge of honor & quite the norm in most societies to lose one's virginity BEFORE any vows are made! 'Testing the waters', so to speak, is almost looked at as the wisest course in this day & age, but in that culture & at that point in history, to lose one's virginity outside of marriage was not only a shameful matter, it could end in death!

This is not to say that such laws are no longer applicable to the people of God, for we are still to keep ourselves pure, holy & undefiled, even within the bonds of marriage! However, since we DO live in a different culture & especially since our Righteousness is found in the Creator God Himself ( not some Law written in Stone ), we cannot keep ourselves pure, holy & undefiled simply by following the Letter of the Law. By following the Spirit of the Law, as found in Jesus the Christ, we remain pure, holy & undefiled, even though our bodies have been ravaged! 

The Law of Virginity as found in Deuteronomy 22 does not require an American women to be a virgin when she marries! Nor does it require her to be stoned ( put to death ) if she is not; that Law was made for a certain ( special ) people at a certain time & for a certain purpose. That purpose, as we have seen, was to point them to the Righteousness of the Spirit, not the Letter. Fulfilled in Jesus the Christ, that Law, as the Law of Love, is also fulfilled in us who have sought our Righteousness in the Christ alone, in the Spirit!  

Though it may still in some sense have application for the People of God today, the Law no longer brings condemnation for the follower of Jesus the Christ ( Romans 8:1 )! The Virgin of Israel was kept pure, holy & undefiled, not by her adherence to & reliance on the Law, but by Him who was the End of the Law, its Purpose, its Goal! In the same way, we are kept pure, holy & undefiled, not by remaining virgins till we are married, but by finding our Righteousness, our Virginity in our Relationship with our Heavenly Father!

As we live today in the End of the Law, we should realize that though our righteousness does not come by the Law, the Law is our Heavenly Father's House Rules! If we willingly & thankfully follow those House Rules, things tend to go well for us! For example, if we remain a virgin until we become One with our Mate, things tend to go more smoothly, then if we have left a trail of broken hearts behind us before we 'settled down'. Though this is almost unavoidable in our day & age, even if we do succumb, we are not condemned for it by our Heavenly Father, though we may receive judgement for it at the hands of the injured parties!

The Law remains in effect! Though the Christ, or Messiah, was proven to be the End, or Goal of the Law & the Law was/is fulfilled in Him/us, the Law remains; it is still there! Though we are still judged by it ( we reap what we sow ), we are not condemned by the Letter of it. That Jewish Economy in the first century received their just judgement ( condemnation ) because they ( who should have known better ) rejected their Messiah! For them He was the End of the Law, the Culmination of Creation; He brought about the Marriage of Heaven & Earth. For us who live in the Fulfillment of that Blessed Reality, who constitute this New Heavens & New Earth; we now dwell in the Fulness of Him who is the Culmination, the Consummation of the Law!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Necessity & Importance of Belief

And this is His commandment:
 that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ
 and love one another,
 as He gave us[e] commandment.
I John 3:23

In order to do, one must first believe..............SOMETHING!

That is an undeniable fact; in order for one to accomplish anything, that one must first make a judgement ( however quickly or rightly ) & THEN act upon that judgement, or belief! While some people act more or less like animals & act upon instinct, they’ve still made a judgement, even a split-second one, about how they're going to react to a given situation. Everyone believes something; that's a fact of life!

Some claim to be irreligious, but the fact of the matter is, to whatever extent, everyone is by nature religious! They may not act according to their stated belief, or they may not even do much in any way, but everyone believes something & if one does do nothing at all, that one believes they should do nothing. If one does not act according to their stated belief, then we can know they're acting according to their true belief!

Scripture tells us in quite a few different places that one must believe in order to be saved; this is not to say that belief is no longer necessary, but we must realize that these words were spoken to a certain audience at a certain point in time! The necessity was for those Jews in the first century to accept Jesus as their Messiah. The haunting question here could be, 'is it not still necessary for people to accept Jesus as their Messiah, their Savior?' In some sense, one might say that it is necessary for one to realize that Jesus was the Messiah & accept His Atonement, but the fact of the matter is, He was the Jewish Messiah, He came to atone for their sin ( s ) & it is only as we identify with them, as the Body of Christ that we partake in their salvation!

Belief is a funny thing; there is a right way of believing & a wrong way of believing! As we have seen, everyone believes something; those who ( truly ) believe wrongly usually do wrongly & those who ( truly ) believe rightly will most often act rightly. Such is not always the case though, when it comes to stated beliefs; some people say one thing & do almost the exact opposite! One might say they believe everything written concerning the Gospel of the Son of God & yet not practice the example He gave us. On the other hand, one might claim not to believe that Gospel ( or even be ignorant of it ) & yet live according to many of the principles we find in the Gospel!

While it is true that one must believe in order to act upon those beliefs, is it of absolute necessity for one to believe according to the accepted orthodoxy in order for one to act correctly? Pretty obviously not! On the other side of the coin, it is plain that just because one states their orthodoxy doesn't mean they act correctly. 

The problem that most people have with religion is not so much with religion itself, but with organized religion; a religion that says of itself that is the only correct way to believe & that if one doesn't profess its orthodox principles, that one is heretic & not on the highway to hell! Organized Religion usually teaches that their orthodox principles are the way, the truth & the life; if one doesn't adhere to their stated principles, that one is consigned to outer darkness, at least until they repent!

Thus, it is of utmost importance to believe, to truly believe what is right! In order to act rightly, one must first be able to make a right judgement. Again, in order to make a right judgement, one must have at least a basic knowledge of what IS right! With the In-dwelling Spirit & the Cleansed Conscience, one can make a right judgement even though that one may not have explored the intimacy & intricacy of one's faith, or belief! That one might understand that Jesus was/is the Son of God ( Very God of Very God ), but yet not aver the trinitarian principle of Father, Son & Holy Spirit! One may simply believe that Jesus, as the Son of God, God Himself, is One that we should emulate!

This is how we should then live; we should live religiously, according to our beliefs! We have seen that it is possible that even though one doesn't necessarily profess orthodoxy, they may act correctly. Then again, just because one does confess orthodox doctrine doesn't mean that one will practice it religiously! One may not have any certain stated belief ( religion ) & yet practice the principles that we find in the words of Jesus; 'just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise' ( Luke 6:31 ) & 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself' ( Leviticus 19:18 ). One might ask at this juncture whether it is even possible to love one's neighbor without first loving the Creator; good question: here's another, 'what does it mean to love God?'

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Church's Purpose, the Church's Plight

For too long, just like her fore-runner Israel of Old, the Church has been comfortable in her idolatry & adultery! Adultery may seem too strong of a term & according to most evangelical Christians, blasphemy, but let's face it, with Her reliance on the Power of the State, the Church, institutionally speaking especially, is nearly as guilty as Israel of Old of spiritual adultery! The State has all but taken the place of the Creator God in the lives of many Christians; if we want to endeavor anything, even something our Lord commands, more often than not, the first place we seek permission & blessing is from the State. When the State commands us not to do something that our Lord commands most Christians will cry 'persecution' or either justify their failure to follow their Lord's command! On the other side of the coin, if the State commands us to do something that our Heavenly Father commands us not to, many Christians will just shrug their shoulders and chalk it up to the end times; 'Jesus is surely coming soon', they exult!

The Time for Reformation is ripe! In many places & to whatever extent, the New Reformation has begun. Many within the Church are beginning to seek other avenues, even taking some cues from those outside the Church because they seem to have more plausible answers than the Church has been able to provide! Blame it on feminism or whatever 'ism' you wish, what it all comes down to is the version of the Gospel, or Good News that the Church has been preaching, especially of late! When the Gospel of Jesus the Christ becomes nothing more then making sure one goes to 'Heaven'' when one dies, when it offers no solution to our earthly difficulties, it has become a dangerously weakened Gospel! Something has got to go & what needs to go is the sort of theology that Christianity has clung to for the past several hundred years!

Scripture clearly states that Jesus paid the price, that He took vengeance on His enemies & that He raised up His Body! Most Christians believe that He will ( must ) return again to save His People yet again & take vengeance ( again ) on His enemies; then He will raise His Body from the grave, or more succinctly, their graves. Here we come to one of the most insidious worms in the apple, 'individualism'! Individualism is of course, not a Scriptural notion; Scripture never tells us of an individual salvation or resurrection except as a picture of the corporate salvation & resurrection of the People of God, or Israel.

Like Israel of Old before Her, the Church ( who is Israel Renewed ) was given a job to do: that job was/is to propagate the Gospel of Jesus the Christ & to pour out streams of Living Water for the healing of the nations! The Church was designed to influence ( in a good way ) the Culture around Her, but instead, it's the other way around. The recent Supreme Court decision in favor of homosexual marriage licensing is simply the latest symptom. Another symptom that shows how the Church has failed to righteously affect the culture is the widespread acceptance of abortion! Just like the Church in Germany in the thirties & forties failed to stand up for what was right & stamp out what was wrong, the Church has failed to have any real effect on the cultural plague of infant murder!

As always, the best place to begin is the beginning! We who seek to foment the New Reformation, nay Revolution do not have all the answers, but we do know where to start! The Narrative, usually called the Bible or Scripture, is where one must begin to make any sense of History. The Creator God lowered Himself to first, redeem & second, to commune with His Creation. He first made a covenant with Israel of Old to be His Priests in that endeavor, then, when Israel failed in their Mission, He sent His own Son to be His Priest, to redeem Israel & to commune with His Creation! As the Body of His Son, the Church has been given the task of spreading that Good News, but She too will ultimately fail in Her mission if all she can offer is some future hope of 'Heaven'! If She continues to let the culture follow the lead of evil men & women rather than affecting the Culture around her with the Good News of Jesus the Christ, then She should not be surprised when She begins to feel the weight of the evils of the culture She neglected!

Viva la Revolucion!

The Church must repent of both her adultery & idolatry; She must stop relying on the Government of Mere Men to bolster Her economy & She must divorce Herself from the love of all that is not Her Creator! To accomplish this, there must needs be Reformation & the sooner the better!The New Reformation is happening as we speak; it may not be a sudden as the apostle Paul's experience on the road to Damascus & it may not be as emotionally charged as the 1st & 2nd Great Revivals, but it is happening nonetheless; it starts with the Story, for a correct understanding of the Story helps us to realize our true place in History & our true Status as the Church, the Israel of God & a Nation of Priests!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Name of God

Scripturally, the Creator/Author of Heaven & Earth is known as YHWH, or even more correctly, 'I AM'! There are many names that have been attributed to our Heavenly Father; 'Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace' ( Isaiah 9:6 ) is just one example. We realize that this list, in context, is referring to the Christ, or Scripturally, 'the Son of God' ( I John 5:20, et al ), but Jesus WAS 'God with us' ( Isaiah 7:10-14 ). To the Noble Savage, otherwise known as 'he American Indian', He was often called 'The Great Spirit'. Other cultures, though not what we would call Christian, know their Creator by any number of different names. The religion of Islam, for instance, calls the Creator God by the name of 'Allah', though their perception of Him ( the Creator God ) is often at odds with the Christian God!

Traditionally, because of our Christian Scriptures, we have called the Creator by the name 'God' ( sometimes 'Yahweh' ) & to be honest, this is not wrong, but is it correct? The Hebrew word translated 'God' in our Scriptures is 'elohim'; this simply means 'a mighty one, a ruler or judge'! When our Lord commanded the Children of Israel, through Moses, 'You shall have no other gods before Me' ( Exodus 20:3 ), He used the same Hebrew word to describe those false gods, those idols that would confront His Covenant People in the Promised Land!

When Moses asked the Creator God what he should tell the Children of Israel if they should ask who had sent him, his Lord said 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you' ( Exodus 3:14 ). This was the Name by which the Creator's Children were to know Him! Now, we must understand here as well that we are reading/interpreting this from our English translation of an ancient near eastern language. 'Hayah' is the Hebrew word used here & it simply means 'to be, to exist'. Traditionally, we have read it as 'The Preexistent One' ( or something to that effect ). Of all the many names that Scripture ascribes to our Heavenly Father, this is probably the most technically correct, but this name was revealed to the Hebrews, not to Americans; should we in the 21st century use that same Name, or even just use the rather ambiguous 'God'?

In this day & age, as in ancient times, our 'god' is whatever we worship, whether it be money, things, or whatever. For instance, the inscription on American money, both paper & coinage, 'In God we trust', could actually be interpreted in such a way that the very currency on which this phrase is imprinted it technically the 'God' or 'god' referred to! To be honest, when this phrase was first coined, doubtless those who coined it had in mind the Creator God, but since the term itself is so ambiguous, it could just as well mean 'in money ( or financial status ) we trust'!

Some might wonder if it is really all that important what we call our Lord, our Heavenly Father! Doesn't He still hear the prayers of His Children, whether they call Him 'God', Yahweh, 'Allah', or even refer to Him simply as 'The Great Spirit'? No doubt He does, but if we would be true in our speech & Scripturally correct, we should probably use the name Yahweh, or even refer to Him as IAM'! As fathers, though, don't we appreciate when our children call us 'dad', 'papa', or even 'father'?
It has become more popular, especially in the past 50 years, give or take, to call our earthly fathers by their first names & though this is not necessarily wrong, not all fathers appreciate this; to some, it would probably be seen as a sign of disrespect!

So again, does it really matter what terms we use when referring to the Creator God, our Heavenly Father? He is our God, our Ruler, our Judge & THE Mighty One, but not everyone acknowledges this! While this does not change the Absolute, it does make a difference in how we are perceived! We may say that we believe in God, but if we put more importance on other things than on following our Lord's commands & example, then those with which we have to do will note that our 'God' is truly not the Creator, but money, status, etc. If we call Him our Father, or even 'Yahweh' or some other Scriptural term, then they should realize that we serve the God of Israel!

Whatever terminology we use to describe our Heavenly Father ( 'God' is perfectly acceptable ), what is most important is that we follow His example! If a Muslim calls Him 'Allah' & follows the example that He gave us through Jesus the Christ, will he or she be justified through their deeds as well as a Christian? A Buddhist that follows in Jesus' footsteps should be accepted as well as an American Indian who worships 'The Great Spirit'!

What it comes down to is not what you call your god, but what you do with your god. How many Christians put so much emphasis on using the correct terminology to refer to the Creator God that they forget that it is by doing, by following His commands & example that we are judged? How many people that wouldn't necessarily be called Christians actually put His teachings into practice, even though they may not recognize Him as their Heavenly Father?

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Living Above it All; Kingdom Living in the Age of Aquarius

Many Christians are guilty of an almost Gnostic dualism! This pietistic notion is based in large part on the apostle Paul's admonition to the Colossian Church, to 'Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth'. A more careful study, though, of Paul's covenantal context, and grammar, will show that, as in the rest of his letters, Paul is referring to the elemental nature of the Old Covenant economy, and reminding his brethren not to seek to retain those things, but to realize, and grasp, or hold on to the Reality to which those things pointed!

If we have truly been raised to where Jesus is, metaphorically seated at the Right Hand of the Father, then why should we worry our pretty little heads about things that pertain to this life? Please do note that I am NOT saying that we should not concern ourselves with the things of earth! If it is true that 'Heaven came down & Glory filled my soul', if indeed the Marriage of Heaven & Earth has occurred ( John 14:23, et al ), then why are Christians living in fear, fear of what men may do?! Did not Jesus say things like 'do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul'??

Yes, the rest of His statement reads 'rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell ( gehenna )' ( Matthew 10:28 )! In context, Jesus was warning His disciples of the persecutions that would come & were already coming from the Jewish sector. He also spoke these words of comfort to His first-century disciples in reference to the coming destruction of their enemies & His! Although, according to the Revelation of Jesus the Christ, these words were fulfilled in the destruction of the Jewish Temple in AD70, along with the annihilation of many of those Enemies of the Cross, these words, at least the first half of Jesus' statement, stand as true today; we need not fear those who would destroy our biological body in this Age either!

Of this Age, Jesus said, '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 any more, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection' ( Luke 20:35 & 36 ) Clearly, Jesus was not speaking of biology here ( else we are not 'sons of the resurrection'! ). Since we cannot die, having attained that which the apostle Paul was seeking, we can truthfully assert that we are not our biological form! While we are currently housed within that form ( for good reason ), our biology may perish, but we, like Jesus said in other places ( John 11:26, ? ), cannot die anymore!

Of late, certain scholarship has asserted that, according to the heavenly portents, we are no longer in the Age of Pisces but have arrived in that long-awaited Age of Aquarius! This is by no means to say that we ( of the 21st century ) have recently arrived, for the Age of Pisces was past long ago! The Age of Pisces, of course, was that Age in which Jesus walked the earth & told His followers,'I will make you fishers of men'. In this Age, the one Jesus referred to when He mentioned 'that age' & that which those certain Scholars name 'The Age of Aquarius', we no longer fish for a living ( for there is 'no more sea' - Revelation 21:1 ); we ( corporately/collectively ) are The Water-Bearer; we broadcast The Water of Life to a dry & thirsty world ( John 4:14 )!

So what should we do with this newly discovered knowledge ( gnosis ); how shall we then live? There are those fellow Christians, a majority, in fact, who believe differently concerning the fulfilment of eschatology! This is not to say that just because Fulfilled Eschatology has not yet dawned on them that they have not entered this New Age ( the Age of Aquarius ), nor is it to say that they are knowingly following vain traditions, believing they must still 'save ( others ) with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh' ( Jude 1:23 )! With the fulfilment of eschatology was fulfilled the fire that Jude referred to; again, according to the Revelation ( 20:14), 'Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire'! While that 'Fire' still burns, we realize now that It has a purifying effect; rather than simply destroying the rebellious & unclean, Its Purpose is to cleanse!

It is not by 'the sword' that we broadcast this Gospel; it is not by force of arms that the Good News will be spread; the borders of the Kingdom of Heaven will never be expanded through needless wars & violence! It is not through dying, but by living that the Living Water flows! We are past acting like mere Beasts of the Earth, we are better than that! We have been given a new status; we are 'sons of the resurrection', sons of our Heavenly Father & 'equal to the angels': we cannot die, so why in hell do we act like we can?!

Though most Christians may not have come to the full realization of this glorious fact, Death is Defeated! Ever since the Christ died on the cross & rose again, what the apostle Paul calls 'the last enemy' has not been in existence. Biological death, the separation of body & spirit is painful, even for the Christian who realizes this glorious fact, but though we miss the physical presence of our loved one, we are comforted know that they are with us still!

Again, we, as the Body of Christ, are above all that; we do not fear the pain of biological death, for we know that is only a part of us, the external part of us that will eventually return to the dust, metaphorically speaking! No longer must we live in fear, as others do. Through the freedom with which the Christ has set us free, we can now live our lives to the fullest, not feverishly trying to 'save the perishing' but realizing that we carry within us the Water of Life, let us Live such a Life before all men that they will begin to thirst for that which flows from us!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Pilgrim's Progress; Paradigm Shift

John abruptly woke up one day! He wasn't sure he was ready to wake up, but wake up he did! All his friends had warned him ( numerous times ) about the dangers of getting out of bed, but on this particular morning, John just couldn't stay in bed any longer; he just felt that he had to roust himself out of bed & shake off the vestiges of slothful slumber that had taken hold of him. For one thing, his body was telling him that he could no longer find comfort between those silken sheets; he had to get out before he was totally overcome! Also, there was that still small voice that told him he must rise now, or go back to sheep!

On the other side of town lived a young man named Christopher. Christopher had already been awake for quite some time & had been speaking with John on lunch-break at their place of employment, Pilgrim Foods. Over the course of several years, as Christopher had shared with John the effects of being awake; although it usually made him very uncomfortable ( scared the hell out of him, in fact ), John couldn't help returning to those lunch-time meetings every day for those several years to learn about this freedom his friend had found!

Daphne, John's lovely wife ( she liked her mask though ), was not so sure about this 'waking up' thing; she felt very comfortable where she was & she did NOT feel bad about it! Her body was not telling her it was time to get out of bed, nor did she hear that still small voice that was urging her to wake from her slothful slumber. Her husband was learning though, that once you've woken up, it's hard to go back to sheep!

John & Daphne were approaching their 25 year wedding anniversary ( about as long as Christopher had walked this earth ) & had spent most of those years in wedded bliss! John had found in the past several years, however, that it was getting more & more difficult to open up to his beautiful wife. These strange new ideas that had been fomenting in his poor befuddled brain threatened to drive a wedge between him & his lovely bride!

One day, that momentous day in fact, that John decided to hit the ground running & shake off those vestiges of slumber; Daphne decided she would rather retain her relative comfort between the sheets & go back to sheep:  'make your own breakfast', she mumbled. John's first thought was to respond in kind & assert his just right as a husband, but instead he told her to enjoy her repose, and wake up when she was ready. He had a job to do!

When John got to work that day, he learned that Christopher had been 'let go' for proselytizing on the job ( even though it WAS on lunch-break )! Although John was rather disappointed, he decided that he had been awake long enough that he could carry on without Christopher. Christopher had done him a big favour, waking him out of his slumber like that, but having done his job, Christopher had decided it was time to move on & wake up the next one!

After a long but rewarding day at work ( his name was Juan ), John returned home to find Daphne still ensconced within the relative comfort of her slothful slumber! Being somewhat concerned to find his wife still sleeping, John gently woke his slumbering wife, asking in a still small voice if she was okay. Daphne's eyelids fluttered as she heard the voice of her lover &; it was then, as she really felt his presence for the first time in several years, that she decided it was time to wake up; she wouldn't go back to sheep!

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, July 06, 2015

Jacob & the Potter's Ground

From the very beginning, Jacob had been a fighter! Born the younger twin, his life had been a fight from the start. He had even fought with his older brother ( by seconds ) as to who would would say 'hello, cruel world' first! Although his brother won out & arrived first, for the rest of his life, Jacob had to scratch & claw his way to the top. As he got older, things just seemed to escalate & even though his position had been made clear ( or so he thought ), his older brother who should by rights have willingly submitted to him, was about to wrest what was his by divine right!

Things were never easy for young Jacob; his brother had always been bigger, stronger, more readily suited for what had always been the more 'manly' pursuits. While Jacob had more of a 'green thumb', you might say & was more of a homebody, his brother on the other hand, was one of the mighty men of old & loved to hunt wild beasts of all sorts. Therefore, when his father had a hankering for a good roast, his brother was the natural choice!

Jacob was a good cook ( 'damn good' if you were to ask him ). One day, just after he had finished rustling up a stew that was 'to die for'; his brother, who had just come in from a long arduous day of hunting, asked Jacob for a bowel of his delicious stew. Jacob, seizing the opportunity, told his sibling that he could have some of his precious stew if he would relinquish his birthright ( very important in that day & age ). Since his brother was more concerned with filling his stomach with that delectable looking & smelling stew, Jacob became the proud owner of something that his people valued very highly, the status of firstborn!

The father of Jacob & his ( slightly older ) brother was dying! Even though Jacob had managed to wrest his brother's birthright from him ( or so he thought ), his father was obviously unaware of this important fact ( Jacob's brother seemed to have conveniently 'forgotten', too ) because he was about to confer the greatest blessing upon the wrong person! Jacob had to do something & quick! With a little help, he was able to pull the wool over his father's eyes & so recieved what should have been his from the beginning!

You can bet that the older brother was not pleased with his younger brother; in fact, when he heard that Jacob had supplanted him, he wanted to kill him! since their father was on his deathbed, the older brother decided to let him die in peace; after his father was dead, then he would kill Jacob! However, Jacob was blessed & escaped his brother's wrath by escaping to the land of his father's birth. While there, Jacob was himself deceived & had to work many long years for the woman of his dreams. In the fullness of time, though, he received the blessing that he had fought for all his life & returned to the land of his nativity.

On the road, Jacob met his brother. He had expected this & so had prepared a quite lavish gift to appease his brother ( or so he hoped )! His brother had amassed other mighty men besides himself & so justified Jacob's fear, but as it turned out, Jacob's brother was so genuinely happy to see his long-lost brother that he forgave him all! Jacob went on his way in one piece, having lost nothing.

An interesting thing had happened to Jacob the night before this reunion, though,a Man had met him, claiming to be a messenger from his Father! Whether through disbelief or because Jacob was a natural fighter, Jacob fought with this Man for a good while, through the night in fact & finally bested him! The Man, seeing that Jacob was besting him, renewed the blessing that he had received from his father, now his Father & transferred upon Jacob the title that he had long sought, that of the Firstborn!

Although Jacob had received many blessings despite his deceitfulness, he was also troubled for the rest of his life! He had two wives to deal with as a just reward for his own wrongdoing. He had unruly children although he was materially blessed through them. Through them, he finally inherited the Potter's Ground!

The Potter's Ground came at great cost to him & his sons though! They, like their father Jacob, had to fight their whole life through! The land of their inheritance lay open before them, but it was full of wild beasts, wild beasts that would as soon stomp them to death like so many grasshoppers then allow them to live in peace alongside them. Being natural fighters like their father, the sons of Jacob, now called by another name, were quick to root out the evil from the Land of their inheritance, although in doing so, spread their own brand of evil in its place!

The sons of Jacob, though they had their moments, were not unlike the wild beasts that they endeavoured to cleanse from the Potter's Ground; they had much the same ( or worse ) wicked wiles that those brutes had exhibited! In the midst of the genocide they had been commanded by their Father ( or so they thought ) to perpetrate, they had failed to fully cleanse the Land & so had become corrupt themselves! For the sake of the few, many were graciously spared the atrocities they themselves had perpetrated upon the original inhabitants of the Land!

In the Fullness of Time, when the wickedness of Jacob had come full circle, so to speak, it was time, once again & finally ( once for all ) for the Land to be cleansed! This time, the genocide was complete. Those who were given the orders to root out the evil from the Potter's Ground were successful, for at their head rode the very Man who had struggled with Jacob so many years before!

This Man was the Rightful Heir of the Potter's Ground, being the True Firstborn! As the Son of His Father, this Man, though He gave His Life ( willingly ) for that of His People, never was in doubt of His Status as the Firstborn; He knew that His Father had blessed Him with infinite blessing from the beginning!

Jacob was always a deceiver! Though he was blessed, his blessings were always darkened by the threat of cursing! He inherited the Land, but he failed to receive the Potter's Ground, except for a small remnant, who accepted it gladly, having looked for a better, that is, a heavenly country!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, July 03, 2015

Beyond Eschatology

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 
 And this we will[a] do if God permits.
Hebrews 6:1-3 

Many of those who have latched onto the principle of past fulfillment have gone so far as to say that the Scriptures no longer are applicable. Since they have been fulfilled & were written for a specific purpose to those in the first century A.D. & prior, the theory is that they hold no relevance for us today. Some may actually be called 'antinomians', for they believe that Jesus did away with the whole Law ( not just the 613 Mosaic Codes ) at the Cross!

The whole of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, is concerned not so much with scientific facts, but with the Eschaton! The words 'Let there be Light' ( Genesis 1:3 ) are significant of this! The fact that Moses does not record the generation of the sun & moon until three days later hint very strongly that what is usually called the Creation Account is not so much about the formation of creation, but about something of a more spiritual nature, the creation, or revelation of Covenant, in the form of the Very Son of God, Jesus who was the Christ!

The Importance of Eschatology centers around this very basic fact! The Fact that the Revelation of the Son of God was & is the foundation of our Heavenly Father's Purpose makes eschatology one of the most important doctrines in Scripture, especially soteriologically speaking! Jesus told His first-century audience, 'salvation is of the Jews' ( John 4:22 ). If Scripture is not fulfilled, then neither is salvation: if salvation was fulfilled in Jesus, the Messiah of Israel ( Jews ), then so was Scripture!

One might ask the question, at this juncture, 'are not people still being saved today?', or, 'isn't there still a need for people to get 'saved?' Well, yes, there are still those who need to come to Christ, in other words, to realize that they are living in rebellion to their Creator, to repent of that rebellion & turn & pursue a blessed relationship with Him & His People! Salvation, though it was of and for the Jews ( Israel ), is being fulfilled today, though maybe not in quite the same sense, eschatologically speaking!

Fulfilled Eschatology reached its End in the Revelation of Jesus the Christ as the Son of God! Though Eschatology is thus fulfilled, the End is ( still ) Near! When the Creator brought
Eve to Adam ( as recorded in Genesis 1 & 2 ), He instituted the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, the Creator with His Creation. The Marriage, which extends beyond what we know as eschatology, continues for infinity; the Wedding, including its Feast ( Marriage Supper of the Lamb-Matthew 22:1-14, Revelation 19:9 & 17 ) has already occurred, as per Scripture, but in the greatest sense, is being fulfilled ( filled up ) in &; through His People! As the borders of His Kingdom expand & increase, as more & more every day realize the Salvation that was brought to the Creation, that Salvation is continually fulfilled!

The accusation might well be made, then, that those who believe all Scripture is fulfilled have lost sight of any relevance or application for our day & age! This is not true; we do not deny the Truth of passages such as II Timothy 3:16 & we acknowledge that though Eschatology came to its End, or Goal, the Scriptures are indeed relevant to our status today & are applicable to every area of Life! Understanding, though, that the Messiah of Israel was the Fulfillment of all Prophecy ( Luke 21:22 ) is of utmost importance, for so we have problems such as sabbatarianism, Creation Science, & such.

Simply because we would move Beyond Eschatology & its prerequisite 'repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment', this is not to say that the Scriptures ( even these doctrines ) are no longer relevant or applicable! As the writer to the Hebrews urged his readers to do though, we have moved beyond mere doctrine to the actuality of Truth in Living! No longer do we dwell on eschatology, for Eschatology is Fulfilled in the Son of God; in the greatest sense ( John 14:12 ) it is fulfilled in us, those who are the Body of Christ & Sons of God in our own right!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

A Hymn of Faith; II Timothy 2:11-13

Through His Death, we Live, through Endurance, we Reign;
As we own Him, He owns us & though we stumble, He bears us Upright!
He is faithful; He keeps His Word; He is our Father; He is our Constant!

The apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus, 'by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; [ it is ] the gift of God'. Being one of the most favored passages on both sides of the equation, but in particular to the Calvinist, this short passage is also one of the most debated! The Calvinist likes to point out that faith is itself a gift of God, whereas the Arminian would most likely insist that it is salvation or grace which the Gift the apostle speaks of & that it is through OUR faith that it is given. Neither is wrong & in a sense, both are right!

'Faith', according to the writer of the Hebrews ( 11:1 ), 'is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen'. Scriptural faith had a Goal, an End; it was & is fulfilled by the Hope of the Eschaton, 'Christ in us, the hope of glory' ( Colossians 1:27 )! Now, we say Faith is Fulfilled, not that it is no more, but that it reached the Pinnacle of its Purpose in the Advent & Revelation of the Son of God. The Revelation of Jesus Christ was the End, or Goal of Eschatology; the Creator & Father of us all dwelling with His Creation was & is fulfilled in us ( John 14:23 )! One might say ( some claim this ) that though the Holy Spirit dwells within His People, the Son of God, Jesus, has yet to return & walk on this earth, but Jesus made it pretty that the Essence of the Creator dwells with us in Fulness when He said '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'. It would no doubt be argued from both ends of the spectrum that though this may already be fulfilled in Spirit, it is not yet fulfilled in Truth!

There is no doubt that in order for one to believe something, especially something intangible, some amount of faith must be exercised! Most people find it fairly easy to believe in something tangible, something that can be witnessed by physical sense, either by touch or by sight. Many are willing to take someone else's word for it & have faith that person is being truthful in representing their experience. Others say, 'I won't believe it till I see it for myself ( seems to me that one of Jesus' own disciples said something to that effect )! For most people to believe something, especially a 2,000+ year old document, or scroll actually, it takes a fair amount of faith!

The apostle Paul also told his son ( in the Faith ) Timothy, 'All Scripture [ is ] given by inspiration of God, and [ is ] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness' ( II Timothy 3:16 ). How much Faith must it have taken for the original recipients of this letter, to say nothing of us, almost 2,000 years later, to believe what the Scriptures say about themselves? By Faith, we can look back at that document, or rather, those documents & say with the apostle, 'yes, this is the written revelation of the Word of God; everything it says about Him is true & faithful'! As Christians ( at least, for the most part ), we believe what Scripture says about itself, the Nature of the Creator & how we should then ( NOW ) live!

Eschatologically speaking, Faith did come to, or reach, its End, its Goal! It is still exercised ( as it MUST be ) & fulfilled in us, both we who are the Body of Christ & those who come to Faith ( so to speak ), but Scripturally speaking, our Faith has found its Resting Place! No longer do we wait for the Hope of Glory for which those first-century Christians looked: our Faith has come Home to us!

We Rest in Him; in Him we find a Constant, for even though we often doubt & lose our faith ( even just for an instant ), He remains Faithful, for He is Faith itself!

Charles Haddon Shank