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God’s Word for 2018 part 1

Lets start the year off learning to understand the Word for us.

 

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How to spot fake christians and false prophets: Separating the real from the fake

 

 

The past year I have been amazed at what and who gets called christian these days. 2017 was officially the year of “fake news”, and by extension the rise in fake christians. It is clear that many have problems distinguishing the genuine from the fake. Its ironic that in the information age, there is so much confusion. We are in an age of information however there are specializists who spread misinformation for the purposes of distorting the truth. The devil is an expert at telling half truths and misinformation. The scriptures point to us that often even the devil comes to us as an angel of light; when the truth is that he is a master of disguise. The scriptures give us clues how to discern  a true believer from one that is fake. Because God is concerned about how he and his people are percieved. Here are  a couple of ways how to spot a true christian from a fake.

A true christian will love God more than himself.

4“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

The first and greatest command is to love the Lord with all of one’s heart, soul and strength. Everything about a christian will emanate from this point. When you are looking at someone, you have to ask the question? Does this person really love God. Does this person not just talk about God, does this person know God, do they want to know him. Do they have a relationship with Jesus. Do they believe that he died for their sins and are eternally grateful for the work that he did.

 A christian will display the love of God to others.

The second commandment is to Love our neighbor as ourselves.  Matthew 22:39. Jesus clarifies this statement by stating that loving our neighbor means not just loving those who look like us and think like us, but it is to love those who are different, it is to love those who are despised, and mistreated, it means to look out for their interests and to even pray for our enemies.

This is why racism, sexism, and any other prejudice is wrong. We are not to treat others worse or to disparage, and criticize certain groups just because they look, talk  or believe differently then we do.

If you have a person who is always treating or talking about an individual or others who are different in a condescending way, if they are one to cause division and hatred this is a sign that they do not walk with God. Proverbs 16:28 states A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.

Again proverbs 15:18 states:

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.

Where as the mark of a believer should be this as found in Proverbs 17:9

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

The mark of a christian should be one that strives to bring others together in love and not one of division. I want to make a caveat in this because love of others doesn’t mean you will not confront or speak out against things that are wrong. For instance if I have a married friend who is cheating on his wife, my love for him will not mean I will not call him out on his cheating because it will offend him. Rather the opposite, my love for him will lead me to call him out on his sin. My friend may not like it when I call him out, however the way I approach him will emanate out of my care for him, not one of blanket condemnation. Christians should always strive to speak the truth, and make principled stands, but when they do it they must speak the truth in love.

A christian will have a love for the people of God and for the Word of God.

14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

The author of Hebrews takes this idea and states it this way

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

We have talked about the love for others. However there is a special love for the Word of God and the people of God. This means a christian will be a part and active in a larger community of worship and faith. A christian is one who longs to hear the words and commands of God and strives to put them into practice. There is no such thing as a lone christian. A biblical christian is one who is part of a larger community, in which he serves and encourages his fellow christians toward love and good works.

A true christian is one who admits their sins, and strives to correct their mistakes.

All christians sin. However scriptures tell us to confess our sins when we do fall short.

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

So the two points behind these verses are the following:

As a christian you will sin, but it is important to confess your sin and not just confess to strive to correct that sin. A christian is one who is humble because he understands that he is a work in progress. Any person who does not confess to their sins, and who does not make any attempts to correct their mistakes is not walking as a believer. Also important is the fact that a believer realizes that our good works will not erase our sins, but that it is only the blood and righteousness of Jesus that cleanses ours sins. We do not rest on our own righteousness but the righteousness of Jesus Christ. So by definition a christian can not be self righteous.

We should all evaluate ourselves and those who claim to be christians by these traits. Jesus warns us that there will be many false prophets, and false teachers, and false leaders. As believers we need to make sure we aren’t duped. Even if you are not a christian, by looking at these things you will be able to tell the real from the fake.

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To knee or not to knee

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With all the discussion and outrage regarding the kneeling and protesting of professional athletes during the national anthem I decided to organize my thoughts.
I think when you are looking at the issue you have to look at it from different angles. First if you’re looking at it from the point of the protester you have to determine what is the goal. If the goal is to bring maximum attention to an issue; there’s no better time to protest. Because of the polarization of this issue the news cycles have incessantly covered this issue for the last few days. This issue has caused many people to look up who Colin Kaepernick is and put the issue of protest on the forefront of people’s minds; so in that respect the protest was successful. It garnered attention to the issue of police brutality.
I know some people argue that the message of protest against police brutality has been lost; yet despite the mischaracterization the fact still remains that people are aware that athletes are protesting something and in their search they have discovered the true reasons. I’m convinced that there are more people who are aware of the issue because they chose to kneel during the anthem.
The second way to look at kneeling during the anthem is in regards to getting people to join or support your cause, and in this area I think the results are mixed. I want to preface my comments with this thought that protest often are met with resistance because protesting is inherently oppositional. It is an attempt to change something that is common place, something that has been accepted. A protester challenges the status quo, so whenever you protest you should expect resistance. The big question however is whether the method of protesting is creating unnecessary resistance or unforced resistance. Are the athletes making unforced “errors”. It is on this point that I think it was unwise to protest during the national anthem. I believe the decision to protest during the anthem has alienated people who may have otherwise joined and supported the cause, but because of the perceived disrespect have not been able to identify and support the cause.
The fact of the matter is that there are many people who are passionate about that specific way of showing patriotism and respect by standing and saluting the flag with the national anthem. Though others may not see that as the only way to display patriotism others view the failure to salute the flag as un-American, unpatriotic and disrespectful. Appearances are at times more important than reality, which is one reason why scriptures tell us to avoid the appearance of evil. I’m not sure, but I believe the protest would garner more sympathy if they had protested before or after the national anthem. This doesn’t mean that the protest wouldn’t have resistance because as I said earlier all protests are going to have resistance. Some resistance is avoidable. A good example of this was the Dallas Cowboys decision to protest before the national anthem. Even though they protested before they were still met with boos and resistance. Yet they did avoid the trap of their protest being missed characterized as being unpatriotic.
I know some have talked about first amendment rights, but that is not the issue as much as the utility of when to use those rights. I know others have used historical examples of protest but I haven’t seen any protests that do what this specific protest does with the use of symbolic appropriation. The best way I can say it is that if you were remixing songs, this remix chose the mix the national anthem with NWA’s F#$@ the police. You can see how that particular mix wouldn’t sit to well with folk. So my point is that there have been other remixes but none like this. So the Ali examples and the Olympics examples just aren’t the same.
The big issue which is sort of beneath the surface is the power of symbolic appropriation. Symbols are powerful they are not necessarily based on reality but on an ideal. The American flag is based upon an ideal of innocence, of peace and harmony, of a melting pot of people who have merged together to create a unique and unified American culture. What the protest does is that it hijacks that image, calls it a lie, a myth. It screams like the echo of a bucket leaving its chamber that we are not in harmony, that we are not in peace but at war .We are not content and healthy but we are ridden with puss filled blisters and warts that are ready to explode. The protests reveal that we are not united but divided. It’s very uncomfortable, it’s provocative and it’s unsettling that the American apple pie to some is more like a discarded moldy fruitcake.
I don’t want to get into the president’s response to this issue because that brings a whole other set of issues. I only want to say I know he can do better. I do want to analyze this idea of being disrespectful to the flag. Most the time when I picture someone being disrespectful to flag I think of them burning the flag, stomping on the flag or physically harming or soiling the flag. I think of the idea of maybe people talking during the national anthem or laughing and joking or maybe turning their back while people are saluting. Yet none of these things are happening. The players are calm they’re introspective, bowing down, some actually have their hands over their hearts. I just don’t see the huge uproar that it’s been made out to be. Again back to my original position I don’t think it’s the best place or time time to protest if you want to gain support from the people in the middle, however I do think the outrage has been overblown and mis- characterized.
I think for dialogue to be effective the protesters should understand and at least respect the pains of those who see their act as being disrespectful, because like it or not appearances matter. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial.Scripture talks about using my freedoms in a way that won’t cause my brother to stumble. I’m not saying don’t offend anyone, but if you can avoid offending someone and at the same time get your point across, do it.

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The Christian Response to Hate: Where is the Love

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5 Thoughts about Charlottesville

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History was made this weekend. Our nation’s under belly has again been exposed. America is indeed a melting pot but its got some serious leaks that if left unaddressed will lead to flooding and destruction.

  1. White Supremacy as well as any view that holds one ethnicity as superior over others is a demonic ideology that should be justly denounced by all people especially Christians.

2. Our country is being driven by extremists and people stuck in their ideological caves who can’t bear listening or trying to understand the beliefs or positions of others. Our culture loves screaming. Whether its in sports entertainment or politics, civil conversation and dialogue has been tossed out the door.  We need civility. We need a national conversation on race, and maybe a national review of history because its clear that many people want to revisit times when the church and government stood quiet in the midst of state sponsored and condoned terrorism. Our laws grant the right to protest, and to be able to express our beliefs as long as we do it peacefully. The merits of those beliefs are what need to be laid plain in public debate.  The ideology that  justified the extermination of the original natives of the land,  one that drove government policy to place Japanese in externment camps,  hang blacks, and lock them up for not having identification is akin to the ideology that is animating these protests. It is one that views all other races as subordinate to the White Race. It is abysmal. Let’s not get it twisted, the protests were not just about protesting the removal of a historical monument, but the rise of the New White Supremacists is a response to the growing minority population and a reaction to the charges of being called racist for wanting to hold on to the memories of a White America.

3. For our nation to thrive we must focus on the things that unite us without ignoring the areas where we are different. Our politics are more polarized then ever. We have gotten to the point where supporters of the other political party are considered our enemies. I have read comments suggesting they be hung, executed and or deported. This is ridiculous. We hate our neighbors next door, we are distrustful of anyone that doesn’t look, speak, or dress like us. We listen to our own media channels, and worse call anything that we doesn’t agree with our position, “fake news”. Its so easy to control you if you cannot even look or listen to other outlets. We have to use critical thinking. Remember the source and the character of the person you are listening to. Scripture points out that you will find wisdom in the multitude of council. If you cannot trust the media, then all you have is propaganda. If we have propaganda, then we no longer have an informed electorate and the basis of our democracy is dead. We are being controlled and manipulated by much larger forces, who are looking for more power and control of our government, our lives and our mind. The Devil is having a field day with all this hate. If you are getting to the point where you hate anyone who does not look like you, then you have lost.  That is what White Supremacy is about and on the other hand there are elements of other ethnic or sexual superiority on the other end of the spectrum. For Christians we are taught to love our enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use us. How can we be christians when we hate our brothers who are of a different political party. How can we be christians when we are quick to break up families of people with different skin tones. How can we be christians when we are scared of muslims? I’m not even talking about the radical ones in the middle east, but any one with a a burqua or hoody. This is crazy.

4. Scriptures call us to speak out against sin.

Cry aloud; do not hold back;
    lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
    and did not forsake the judgment of their God 

10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

As believers we have to condemn Racism, in all of its forms. We cannot give a platform to bigotry. However the gates of hell have started to open up and if believers, especially White evangelicals stay silent, we will see it sweep through the populace, even in the church.

5. Finally we must continue to pray.  The American Church is being tested. What will we stand for? We cannot give in whole heartedly to any political side, for the kingdom of God is much grander and will not be supplanted by a political ideology. We have a gospel to proclaim, and not just one that saves us from individual sins, but against crooked systems.

29“The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. 30I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. 

The judgment of God is near, and we as the church need to intercede for our country, for our leaders, for our elected officials and for our brethren. We must stand against corruption, bribery, systematic oppression and for the poor, the needy and the immigrant that is passing through. My brothers, let us pray, for God is in the midst of separating the wheat from the chaff. There are dark forces that have arisen from the shadows, that will not return except through love, prayer and condemnation.

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He will vindicate me

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Prayer aint political: Praying for our President

We are living in dangerous times. The world around us is changing and it requires leaders who are grounded and who can adapt to the challenges ahead. In America believers have been split on which leader best embodies biblical principals. Despite  political affiliation, and despite whether our candidate won or lost the scriptures call us to pray for our leaders. Here are some thoughts about how we are to pray for our leaders, especially for those of us dealing with a new president.

 

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How to hear from God

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When The Gospel Becomes a Tool for the Oppressor: Lessons from the Life of Nat Turner

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I recently watched the film, “Birth of a Nation” and was struck by one of the themes in the film. The story seeks to tell the story of Nat Turner and the slave revolt that he led in the year 1831.The story is an adaptation of the real account of Nat Turner, a slave, and  a preacher who in retaliation against his unjust treatment snaps and led a rebellion that resulted in the deaths of over 50 white men, women and children. It was a horrible event, one that would eventually spur both sides on the slavery debate to bolster their arguments; the abolitionists pointed to the evils of slavery that would cause such a response, while the southerners reacted by issuing even harsher laws against slaves and fighting against the education and rights of the slaves to engage in church services.

One of the more moving themes in the movie centered around the use of Nat Turner to suppress any agitation or frustration that the slaves had against their master. The movie depicts Nat Turner as a traveling preacher who is called upon by other slave owners to encourage the slaves to submit to the cruelties and obey the commandments of their slave owners. Nat was shocked to see that in some plantations many of the slaves were treated worse than those in his community. He saw many slaves who were, maimed, broken down, both mentally, spiritually and physically. He was told by the slave owners to specifically preach on passages of the bible that focus on service and obedience and submission, neglecting passages that speak about cruelty, the evils of slavery, and the evils of turning a blind eye to such atrocities.  It became difficult for Nat to reconcile his message for obedience and submission when he and those he loved were being brutalized. In the film, Nat’s wife was gang raped, and he ends up being beaten for resisting his master’s increasing attempts to dehumanize his slaves. In one instance Nat’s master allows one of his guests to rape the wife of his fellow slaves. The dissonance between the gospel that Nat read in the Bible and the failure to apply that gospel by his “christian masters”was one of the chief driving forces that caused Nat to snap. Nat Turner saw himself as a biblical prophet whom God would use to inflict his judgement on the slave owners.

Though the movie was an adaptation, it did carry true themes. During those times there was often indiscriminate killing of slaves, raping of women, and brutal violence that was perpetrated by “god fearing” men.

In many places slaves were forbidden to meet and worship, even though one of the justifications for slavery was for the christianization and civilization of the heathen.

In 1834 the Presbyterian Synod of Kentucky wrote:

“Slavery deprives its subjects, in a great measure, of the privileges of the gospel. The law, as it is here, does not prevent free access to the scriptures; but ignorance, the natural result of their condition,does. The Bible is before them. But it is to them a sealed book. Very few of them enjoy the advantages of a regular gospel ministry.” *

Again another account

In 1800, South Carolina declared: “It shall not be lawful for any number of slaves, free Negroes. mulattoes, or mestizos, even in company with white persons, to meet together and assemble for the purpose of mental instruction or religions worship, either before the rising of the sun or after the going down of the same. And all magistrates, sheriffs, militia officers, etc., etc., are hereby vested with power, etc., for dispersing such assemblies.”

WEB Dubois in his work, “The Negro Church” writes the following:

Moreover, the masters clung to the idea that, the chief use of religion among slaves was to make them “obey their masters.” When it was charged that slaves were not allowed to rend the Bible, one naive answer was that it was read to them, especially “those very passages which inculcate the relative duties of masters and  servants.” An intelligent Negro, Lundsford Lane, thus describes the religious instruction of slaves :

There was one hard doctrine to which we as slaves were compelled to listen, which I found difficult to receive. We were often told by the ministers how much we owed to God for bringing us over from the benighted shores of Africa and permitting us to listen to the sound of the gospel. In ignorance of any special revelation that God had made to master, or to his ancestors, that my ancestors should be stolen and enslaved on the soil of America to accomplish their salvation, I was slow to believe all my teachers enjoined on this subject. How surprising, then, this high moral end being accomplished, that no proclamation of emancipation had before this been made ! Many of us were as highly civilized as some of our masters, and as to piety in many instances their superiors…

There was one kind-hearted clergyman whom I used often to hear; he was very popular among the colored people. Rut aft,er he had preached a sermon to us in which he urged from the Bible that it was the will of heaven from all eternity that we should be slaves, and our masters be our owners, many of us left him, considering, like the doubting disciple of old, ‘This is a hard saying ; who can hear it?

What was of note in the film and in history  was the political use of preachers to legitimize and authorize a system of economic oppression, corruption and greed. The Bible contains many passages about slavery, but what was interesting is the selective use of scriptures to validate their message. Just as scripture had mandates for the slave to the slave owner, they also had mandates for the master to the slave.These passages were not emphasized by many. In fact it was the silence on slavery’s appalling aspects that allowed  slavery to be  accepted despite the abolitionist’s best intentions.

A gospel that speaks only to individual sins and not against the systematic sins and fallenness in our earthly kingdoms is an incomplete gospel. Christ did not just come to redeem individuals. He came to redeem humanity. 

A church is not a mature church if it fails to speak out against the atrocities of the  powerful against the “least of these”. 

A church is not a mature church if it fails to act in compassion to serve and minister to the broken citizens and sojourners in its midst. 

I believe the evangelical church has lost much of its influence and its prophetic ability to speak against some of the systemic problems that plague our country. Just as in earlier times many leaders focused on certain issues while ignoring others. It happened in Nat Turner’s day, it happened in the Civil Rights Era and it is happening today.

I have often heard admonition to the poor and needy to remain patient and to hold on such as passages in James 5:7-12

 Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the doors. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we call those happy who were steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your yes be yes and your no be no, that you may not fall under condemnation.

However how often have you heard Elders teach on the judgement on the perpetrators and on the fallen system found in  versus 1-6.

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure[a] for the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have killed the righteous man; he does not resist you.

Now we have  a host of issues that are plaguing our nation that the evangelical church ignores often to avoid the charge of being political such as

  • Mass incarceration ( The United States has a higher incarceration rate per capita than any other nation)
  • Immigration problem (What do we do with those who are here illegally. What is a way that we humanely deal with families, how do we deal with deportations)
  • Military industrial complex (War for profit)
  • Racism ( Americas primordial national sin)

However many in the evangelical community have no problem getting political when it comes to these issues:

  • gay marriage
  • abortion

These are complex issues and how a church should get involved is tricky. Rather than speak about policies, I think at the least we should speak about principles and values that undergird the policies that are created. How should we treat our neighbor, not just overseas, but the one on the other side of the tracks. How do we treat people whose faith is different from ours. We live in an age of division, and we need to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath. The more we are connected to our neighbors the more understanding and nuanced we will be in our beliefs and in our politics.  The church can never lose its focus on Christ’s work on the cross and our call to biblical fidelity and discipleship. However we do need to at least have these discussions.

Our politics should not limit our ability to be truth tellers. The onus of the church is not to come up with the solutions to these issues because some of these issues will only be dealt with when Christ returns. However, morally awakened men are more likely to create godly legislation. The onus of the church is to call foul, those things that are foul and to be the moral voice and conscience of the nation. It should definitely not be the media.  

Now more than ever we need the church to hear the cry of a divided nation and be able to unite us all not into a political party but unto a kingdom. If we our too entrenched in a political side we will not be able to reach those outside our political ghettos.  Our politics is killing us. It is diluting our ability to be salt. It is blinding us. We need to pray for our leaders. Pray for our president.Pray for those who agree with us and for those who disagree.

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The end of gender: Is it possible that there will be no Male or Female in Heaven

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I am going to suggest something that for some could be mind blowing. I want to start off by saying this is speculation, but not empty speculation. I would say I have a small argument based off of some deductions from scripture. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was wrong, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if I was right.

So here’s my thought: There will no longer be man and woman in heaven; at least in the traditional sense.

So the first question anyone will ask is how did you get to this point? That’s a very good question. In one of my more popular posts:

Marriage after Death: Can we be married forever?

I discuss the issue of marriage in heaven, which is closely related to this issue, and in another post

Will there be Candy Apples in Heaven? which is one of my favorites, I discuss  the issue of food in heaven. What they both have in common is they look at what our new bodies will be like.

So this is how I got to the point of assuming that there will be no males and females in heaven.

Lets start out with our primary verse from 1 Corinthians 15:

39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh[c] of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.

40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.”[d] The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord[e] from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear[f] the image of the heavenly Man.

Last I want to go to one of my foundational passages from my last post “Will there be marriage in heaven, found in Matthew 22.

29Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.30At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

So what these passages both suggest is that the nature of our bodies will change, and that we have to look at our bodies differently. Our new bodies will be not like the first Adam, that was created initially male, and then later created female. It will be like that of the heavenly Man.

Now in the passage in Matthew 22 states something very strong. It states that one of the reasons that there will be no marriage is because we will be like the angels in heaven.

So here’s a question, Do angels have a gender?

When you look at scripture I can’t point to any scripture reference where the angel is a female.There is a passage in the fifth chapter of Zechariah that mentions two woman with wings, but those are probably not angels, but representative of other agencies.  Despite the lack of scripture references there is no definitive statement that angels cannot come in a female form. Angels are shape shifters. They have no set look. When they do appear they are often described as men, and at times with a glow, but how they appear on earth may not always be their true form. Often in scripture angels appear from no where and then vanish. The laws of physics don’t seem to apply to them.  Scripture points to the fact that they can appear in the form of humans, but don’t have human bodies. Hebrews states that they often appear as strangers.  So the big point behind this is that angels when they appear in Scripture just take on the form of a human, they do not have permanent physical  human bodies or reproductive organs. They do not have a set form or set gender.

Our first point then is that if angels have the ability to alternate human forms then that means they could come in theory come in either male or female forms depending on what suited them. Again their bodies are adaptable for the purposes of delivering a message.

So if Christ states we will be like the angels, I think he is referring to the fact that we will either have no gender, or that we will not have the same human elements that would cause us to want to get married.

I will not touch the Nephillim argument, but even if one chooses to use that, it seems to indicate the point that angels were not familiar with sex prior to coming down, and that the angels who did come down and had intercourse, had intercourse with women.

So again that leads us to conclude that either angels are prohibited to have sex, or that they have no sexual organs.

However lets move on. We have much bigger fish to swallow.

So the big issue that we have to examine is this question?

What is the primary reason for God making man male and female?

The answer is reproduction.

When God made the earth scripture stated that he started with a seed, Adam, and from Adam he would create Eve, for the purpose of reproduction. What is the primary organ that determines if one is male or female? Our reproductive organs.

So if there is no longer a need for reproduction, why would our new bodies have sexual organs?

So here’s a question. What was the goal of the mandate to reproduce? In Genesis 1:28 scripture says the following:

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it

God’s mandate for man was to fill the earth. It wasn’t simply to populate the earth, but for the population of heaven.  Now once the earth is full, or heaven is full, there no longer remains a need to reproduce. So here’s a question. What is the difference between the population at the beginning of earth and the new earth. The first earth had one man. The new earth will be full of humans. There is no need to reproduce. One of the reasons is that there is no death, and if there is no death and we live eternally, the new earth would have to expand exponentially because of all the population growth.

In the parable of the wedding banquet in Luke 14 we find the master telling his servants to invite as many people into the celebration until every seat is full. There will be no empty seats in heaven. God knows the capacity. There will be no new births in heaven. That stage will be over. All the creation of new humans and death of humans will end at the last trumpet.

So again I ask you, If we are getting new bodies, why would God give us reproductive organs if we will not reproduce? So if God does not give us reproductive organs, and we no longer have penis or vagina, then will we be male and female?

Now aside from the sexual organs, will we still have some appearance as a male or female? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. It is possible to have the appearance of a woman, and not have a women’s sexual organs. Of particular interest is that the angels except for rare occasions seem to wear  clothing. This is of note because there is no evidence that would help us decide if an angel’s figure was that of a female or male. Even when I use the term male, I use it in the sense that when angels appear they come in the male form, but we are not sure of their true form.   There is much that we don’t know because we don’t know what are the hidden elements of our bodies that change, will be replaced or even be done away with. We don’t know what elements of masculinity or femininity will remain or be done away with, or be changed. For instance I’d like to think that there are no bathrooms in heaven.  I don’t think there will be a male, a female and an other bathroom. In fact I hope we don’t even need bathrooms. There are passages that suggest there will be feasting, however I’d like to think that our bodies will not need to create waste, but that every thing we eat would be recycled, or that our eating would be for enjoyment, and not necessarily for fuel. On the other hand if God chooses that we still create waste, then that’s what God wants. I’d have to admit that as a man some of my more peaceful times have been on that porcelain stool, but in Heaven I’m sure that the peace of being with God would eliminate any need for that.

Now here’s an idea I have been floating around, because I know it could kind of bum some of us out that we will potentially be different. Here’s the biggest take away. Our truest identity, or that which makes us, ourselves, is our soul, our memories, and our thoughts. Our bodies obviously make us who we are, but are bodies are going to change, and thank God. My knees are already getting creaky, and my body is not as spry as it used to be, and I’m still under 40 years old. I don’t mind getting an upgrade.

However back to my idea that I’ve been floating around. I think in heaven our bodies will be made for God. There will be a warming pleasure, like being under a warm blanket,or being next to a cool breeze that will create such great joy while we are in the presence of God. Our current bodies cannot withstand his presence. He has to tone it down when he speaks with us. Think of this concept, the earth’s sun has infinitely less glory that that of God. There is a light that is stronger, that is greater, that is more powerful, more warming, more loving, more calming, more brilliant  than anything we have understood or could imagine. We will be made to handle and embrace and contain the glory of God. We will be one with him. It is no longer about male and female. It is about human beings and their God. Our sexual organs are a part of our humanity that we most likely will lose, but that we will in no way miss. Trust me. There will be such great joy, such singing, such music such celebration as never before. The rush that you get when you see a beautiful woman, or man and that desire to be with them, will be replaced with a desire to be with our God. That’s why its called the great marriage feast.

Now again, I could be wrong, but the idea is that God is really efficient and intentional in what he does makes me think that my sexual organs would be a waste of space. We will be eunuchs indeed.  God would not design something that was without use.  I am fascinated when I start to think about the wisdom of God, and the potential that lies ahead of us. We need to understand that though there will be many things that are similar, there are other things that will be different.

So to sum up this conversation, our bodies are a big part of our identity, but one that will change significantly. I’d like to say that we need to shift our conversation and be ready to relinquish our current view of things. I want to close with a scripture that kind of helps put these things into perspective, whether my argument is right or wrong.

29 I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 3and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33 but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl[f] is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 If any one thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed,[g] if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed,[h] he will do well. 38 So that he who marries his betrothed[i] does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

Our world, our conceptions our ideals, our way of life and  our bodies are passing away. Our focus and our devotion in heaven will be on the Lord. The male and female dynamic will fade away. Thats why it says that he who refrains from marriage will do better, because they have the proper focus, it is on God. I think Paul may have understood this concept which adds an extra meaning to this passage here:

26for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slaveg nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Its something to chew on an meditate on. Feel free to comment. I think it makes for a good discussion.

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