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Friday, February 22, 2013

Wholism 201

Last week I mentioned God's rulership over all. The "King’s domain" [Christ's King-dom] knows no bounds or limitations. Christ is Lord of all, all the time, everywhere at once, both in Heaven and on Earth. But does this mean that everything that happens on Earth is His will? 

When I hear Christians say “God is in control,” I have to ask myself what is meant by this. Do we mean to say God causes everything to happen that happens? Is everything that happens, God’s will? I can’t read my Bible and draw this conclusion.  
So how do I reconcile the all-encompassing rule of God with the “stuff” that happens on Earth? This works for me: God is in absolute control, but He does not control all things absolutely.
What does this mean? It means God has the power and authority to do whatever He pleases, whenever He pleases, including causing whatever He wants to have happen on Planet Earth happen. He can make donkeys talk, if He wants. But I do not see the God of the Bible controlling all things absolutely all the time. People can and do violate His will. People can and do thumb their noses at His authority. We all disregard His Word at times, and we have all violated His commands. That’s what sin is about.

Yet, whether people acknowledge His authority or not, this does not change the fact that Christ is Lord of all, all the time, everywhere. We don’t make Christ Lord, He is Lord! It’s our place to acknowledge His authority, accept and embrace it.

Yet even if people don’t embrace it, Christ’s authority still applies to everyone, all the time. His authority is omnipresent and non-selective. It applies as much to personal life as to public life. It applies as much to what goes on in local churches as it does to what goes on in local civil governments. It applies as much to what goes on in families as it does to what goes on at workplaces. It applies to non-Christians as much as Christians. ("Thou shalt not steal," is not for believers only.) 

The rule of God applies to the whole of human activity. There is no public/private split, no church/state difference, and no Christian/non-Christian distinction when it comes to the jurisdiction of Christ's authority. His jurisdiction covers the whole gamut.

That’s wholism 201.
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Friday, February 15, 2013

Wholism 103

Last week, I said Satan doesn’t own Planet Earth or anything in it. But I wonder if some readers may have said to themselves, “Satan may not own it, but he sure does run it!”

Does he?

In John 14:30, Jesus refered to Satan as “the ruler of this world.” But what “world” was Christ talking about? Was He saying Satan is the ruler of Planet Earth?

The English word “world,” translated from the Greek, kosmos, has four meanings in Scripture. They are: 1) the physical realm of creation, as in John 1:10: “He [Christ] was in the world (kosmos), and the world (kosmos) was made through him …;” 2) populated regions, as in Romans 1:8: “…your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world (kosmos);” 3) the human race in general, as in John 3:16: “God so loved the world (kosmos), that he gave his only begotten Son…”

But kosmos ("world") may also mean 4) a system of thought and behavior that is contrary to the will and ways of God, as in I John 2:15: “Do not love the world (kosmos) or the things of the world (kosmos). If anyone loves the world (kosmos), the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world (kosmos)—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world (kosmos).”

Here John defines “the world” as a system of thought and action governed by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. It is this “world” we are not to love. It is this “world” Satan rules. This is not the world God "so loved" in John 3:16!

I humbly submit that Satan is not the ruler of Planet Earth. Yes, he is the ruler of the “world system" that is contrary to the will and ways of God, and he acts like he owns the place. But there is only one Lord.

The Devil is the “prince of the power of the air.” But this prince is no King! The universe has but one King, and that is Christ Jesus, Lord of all. There’s not room on the throne for two.

Christ’s authority rests over the whole of heaven and the whole of earth, all at once. Right now.

That’s Wholism 103.

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Wholism 102

Another awesome aspect of wholism is that Christ, the Creator-Sustainer of the universe, owns the whole kit 'n caboodle. Always did, always will. It's all His.

The significance of this cannot be overstated. That's because if we get the issue of “ownership” wrong, it makes a huge difference in the way we view everything! My friend and mentor, Albert Greene, now with the Lord, touched on the problem when he wrote, “There is a subtle derailment which often occurs in Christian thought at the point of the Fall. We tend to think that when man sinned, God simply relinquished the whole creation as a botched job and left Satan to do what he wanted with it. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Did he say, “subtle derailment?” Al was never prone to overstating. The fact is, it’s a huge derailment!

The world and all it contains is as much God’s stuff after the Fall as it was before the Fall. The Fall did not change God’s ownership status. He not only made it in the beginning and holds it together as you read this post, but He owns it all, and this has enormous ramifications for human beings. When we mow the lawn, it’s His grass we’re cutting. When we pound a nail, it’s His metal we’re pounding. When we examine a drop of water under a microscope, it’s His stuff we're looking at.
In Psalm 50:10-12 God says, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all it contains.” (NASB) Even after the Fall, the earth and all it contains remains His. The whole lot of it! That’s wholism 102.

This is what makes the Fall such a tragic event. It is His creation that is fallen, and it remains His in its fallen condition. It is critically important to understand that the earth and all it contains does not belong to Satan. “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it.” (Psalm 24:1) Although the devil may act like he owns the place, he simply does not. Never did, never will. None of it is his.

For more of Albert Greene, click here, and here.
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Friday, February 1, 2013

Wholism 101

There is no better place to start a discussion about wholism than Hebrews 1:3, which tells us Christ is “...upholding all things by the word of His power.” All things!

Creation [a much better word than “nature”] originally came into being through the premeditated act of God. Yet the very fact that all of creation continues to exist today is as much of a wonder as its first appearance. Creation is not a one-time act of the past, but a continuing deed of the present. It is not as though God made it all at some point in the past, and now it functions quite well all on its own, running according to so-called “natural” laws. Look out your window once again! The present is as magnificent as the beginning, the very continuing existence of the universe as awesome as its first appearance. And Christ perpetuates the whole show as we gaze and gawk.
If it were not for the continuing supernatural action of the creation-sustaining God holding it all together, “nature” would be no more. In terms of how most people think about the “natural” and the “supernatural,” the “natural” has come to mean “the normal operation of a self-governing system,” while the “supernatural” refers to “the interference of God in that system.” Yet Colossians 1:16-17 tells us: “For by Him [Christ] all things were created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist [or, ‘hold together’].”

Sometimes the Lord does things in an out-of-the-ordinary way, such as raising Lazarus from the dead. We call this a “miracle.” But we must not draw the faulty conclusion that God is present in the miracle but stands on the sidelines during the ordinary times. He is equally present in both.
The fact that God created all matter in the beginning is just as awesome as the fact He is right now holding it all together. Right now! He is sustaining our very breath. Apart from His continuing to hold the very atoms of our bodies together, we would fall in a heap on the floor and disappear. In fact, we would disappear before we hit the floor. Both we and the floor are wholely dependent on Him.

That's wholism 101. 
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