Climate Exchange

John 3:17-19

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.

In any argument or debate, the truth should triumph. That being written, arguments and debates should be few, far between, rare and relatively short. However the opposite is true, everyone argues, debates and argues some more. The problem is not that we are ignorant but that we are belligerent. It is not that we don’t know, it is that what we know is usually wrong but we are unwilling to change our minds. We’re set in, stuck in and loving our ways. Just ask Jesus. He said, “men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.” Most arguments are to defend one’s position, beliefs or actions, or to change the mind of another to these positions, beliefs or actions. Today, I will be making an argument; I may even get argumentative; here’s why: truth should triumph but what people believe is their truth. Therefore simply stating the truth is usually not enough, false truth must also be confronted and exposed as false truth, aka; lies, deception, false witness, and in today’s case, twisted Scripture.

John 3:16 is America’s flagship Verse. We see it on signs in stadiums, on billboards and bumper stickers. We hear it quoted more frequently than most other verses. (Again, to beat the proverbial dead horse, the Bible was not written in chapter and verse. These were added later only for ease of reference and not so that we could rip sayings out of context.) John 3:16 is everywhere from articles of clothing to jewelry. Yet how often do we consider the context?

Dispensationalism continues to be the dominant eschatology in America, yet it has lost much momentum. Most likely because they promised Jesus was coming soon to rapture his church. After 150 years and nary a trumpet sound, people are losing faith in the soon coming rapture. The problem is that they are also losing faith in the Bible because it was taught to them that the Bible states Jesus is coming in a rapture rescue, soon, but he hasn’t.

The apex attribute often assigned to irresponsible arguments is the doubling down on the assumed argument. Now that I have your attention by incoherent alliteration; we’ve all seen it, when one is losing an argument, rather than admitting defeat, the opposition doubles down, dubiously. In English which is easily understood: we hate being wrong and have extreme difficulty admitting when we are wrong. Therefore we place all our chips in one basket– metaphorically speaking. The most difficult thing for a person to do is admit when they are wrong. Often times the opposition exclaims nothing more in defense than, “shut up, you’re lying.” Hence, worthless and fruitless arguments.

Therefore for fruit do I argue because we need a cultural climate change. Yet much of this is for myself, as a confession of sin for me and my generation. While I am certainly not the spokesman for my generation, I know my generation well and see our shortcomings and trespasses. We have fanned the flames of the mega-church movement and then walked away unfulfilled. Unlike every other generation and individual, who point the proverbial finger at everyone else and the generation that follows, I place the blame squarely on myself and my generation for the fledgling faith in America–the aptly named, Generation X. Like Billy Joel’s claim, “we didn’t start the fire,” but we did fan the flames to a fever pitch and then left the fire unattended, becoming stoic soccer-moms and faithless football-fathers. I taught my children more about music than I taught them about the truth of Scripture. My daughter could sing Folsom Prison Blues before she could quote a Bible verse. Maybe that was not such a bad thing after all. At least she isn’t set in her ways that the Bible can be broken down into verses that stand alone.

30 years a dispensationalists and 4 years questioning, 5 years a child without any concerns about eschatology and only a few years truly considering the context, I should be an absolute mess. I argued adamantly against all other eschatology other than my own, until the day that truth trumped my taught traditions. Eyes opened, ears to hear, context considered and the Scriptures I had read since a child became brand new.

As a child, teenager, young adult and even upon the threshold of entering middle-age, I believed that the “race” of people descended from Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and his wives and concubines, were God’s people by birthright and that the gentiles were temporary placeholders until God, once again, dealt with Israel. The truth is, it was what I was taught. The truth is, Biblically, that Israel is a microcosm of the world. Nevertheless, Israel was the mother of the Messiah and antisemitism is an egregious sin. Not only was Israel the mother of the Messiah but the mother of the “church.” However, Israel, the nation, is not represented by Sarah but by Hagar.

“Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking: for these women are two covenants, one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. For it is written, ‘REJOICE, BARREN WOMAN WHO DOES NOT BEAR; BREAK FORTH AND SHOUT, YOU WHO ARE NOT IN LABOR; FOR MORE ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE DESOLATE THAN OF THE ONE WHO HAS A HUSBAND.’ And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say? ‘CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON, FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN.’ So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.” Paul wrote to the Galatians.

Allegorically, the Jerusalem above is free, according to the apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians, in which he also told them: “when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?'”

Paul also wrote to the Galatians: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

Context is king. Jerusalem on earth represents the Law and slavery but the Jerusalem above is grace, freedom and true sons. Abraham wasn’t waiting for Jerusalem of earth but Jerusalem from above. Let’s dig deeper into the Jerusalem above.

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”

“And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and let the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy. Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”

Literal city or allegorical, as Paul preached? John recorded Revelation and was told not to seal up the words because the time was near. Daniel was told to seal up the words because the time was not near. Simple math can clear up confusion. We are almost 2000 years removed from John’s “near;” add around 500 years to the time of Daniel, sealing up the words until the end times, and we are 75 percent longer in John’s “near” than Daniel’s “end.” Simply stated, Jesus “is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” That is, to the true believer, Jesus took the curse of the law upon himself. To those who don’t believe in the Son of God, the Law remains and all are guilty.

Confused? Don’t be, because the truth of the Bible triumphs over our taught traditions. Paul called out Peter for hypocrisy in his return to a somewhat Judaism away from the gospel. Paul proclaimed that the Jerusalem above is the true Jerusalem. Peter retreated back to the Old Covenant and was condemned for it–the very thing that the dogmatic dispensationalists argue is to come. Old Jerusalem has run its course. New Jerusalem is a heavenly, spiritual, Jerusalem. The dogmatic dispensationalists fail to see the symbolism.

God loves the world so much that he sent his son, not to judge the world but that his son would save the world. The prophecy pundits proclaim the opposite, that Jesus will judge the world and do so in the future. But Jesus said, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.”

Here’s my argument: the prophecy pundits and dogmatic dispensationalists are wrong. Jesus came as promised, on time, saw everything exactly as he knew he would and fulfilled the Law and the prophets, defeating Satan and purchasing the nations for himself by his blood, establishing a new Covenant and eradicating the old Covenant. (I looked up the word “eradicate” to make certain that it was a strong enough word. It is, but to be sure, let me rephrase the last part of the previous sentence–completely and totally eradicating the old Covenant for all eternity.)

We see this, ironically enough, in the book of Hebrews, but also in Galatians, Romans, Ephesians and if you care to accept my argument, in John’s gospel account and in Revelation. Moreover, we have clearly seen it in Matthew’s account of the gospel.

One thing that people do, besides doubling down on their dubious arguments, is to cite sources of unsubstantiated accusations against another’s argument. Not only this but they also inflate the numbers of said sources. You hear it all the time when you ask someone to cite a single source–“there are too many too list,” they say. Too which I always respond, “if there are too many to list, listing one should be easy.” Usually I get a strawman argument or hear crickets chirping. I don’t argue like that, here are some Scriptural sources, yet far from all of them.

In Romans 8: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”

Look closely, Hebrews 9 contains the following: “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”

But according to the dogmatic dispensationalists, when Christ appears, he comes in reference to sin and judges the earth, especially Israel. According to the prophecy pundits, Jesus rapture-rescues his church and then the Antichrist makes a Covenant with Israel (something only God can do) and hell befalls the earth as God judges the world, obviously, in reference to sin.

But John has Jesus saying that God so loved the world that he sent his son…not to judge the world but that the world should be saved by him.

The prophecy pundits proclaim that the world gets worse and worse, and ironically, we are in the worst times, with the Bible at our fingertips in our own language. The prophecy pundits postulate that the world Jesus came to save, goes to hell in a handbasket in our lifetime. Over thousands upon thousands of years of human history and history falls on us. Isn’t that a bit egocentric?

The prophecy pundits argue exactly as the dogmatic environmentalists do. A brief story: this week I thought that I might die. A wind storm toppled trees as I attempted to make my way home. Tall trees falling to my left, taller trees falling to my right and in front of me were downed powerlines and even more trees. I was traveling with my trailer and the wind caused me to swerve to and fro. I couldn’t tell you how many trees fell within feet of me.

Both the dogmatic dispensationalists and environmentalists would have you believe that this was a sign of the end of the world. But bear with my sarcasm, please. Right, because wind never toppled trees in the history of the world. Yes, I could have easily been killed but I am not so egocentric that I believe what happened to me is a sign of the world ending. It was neither apostasy nor our carbon dioxide output that caused these trees to topple–it was gravity. The reason storms seem worse is because of dogmatic environmentalistm. We no longer can cut trees down therefore they grow larger and larger in otherwise occupied space. It is not wise to have an eighty foot tree, ten feet from a house. In the same way, damage from said storms is also worse because we have built more stuff closer to danger. This isn’t rocket surgery. We have built infrastructure too close to danger, without reducing the danger and have neglected preventative measures. I believe Jesus mentioned this in an allegorical fashion.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.”

Rhetorical sarcasm alert! Floods happen 2000 years ago? Jesus had an aspiration to his audience and he preached to them a parable of which they would see the symbolism. Natural disasters are nothing new. The irony is that we have the knowledge, technology and ability to curb the consequences of these yet we mock those who dare to suggest that forest management is the answer rather than cowering in a the corner of “climate crisis.” I’ll be as blunt and straight forward as I can; if you don’t want trees to topple onto your house, don’t keep trees close to your house. If you don’t want a volcano to erupt and pour lava into your pool, don’t build your pool adjacent to a volcano. While Jesus is saving the world, it takes time to unravel our entanglement, just as it took time for sin to conquer the world. Nevertheless, Jesus has reversed the curse and we are on our way up and not on our way down. Yet still I hear the argument, “everything was better when I was younger.”

Sarcasm alert! Just like the snow used to come up to your hip as a child but now hardly reaches your knee. To any who miss the metaphor–you are short as a child and taller as an adult. The height of the hip of a small child is still less than the height of the hip of an average adult. Meaning that the snow’s depth remains the same as the individual doesn’t.

Nevertheless we are in a climate crisis because of the prophecy pundits postulating that the world gets worse and worse. But again, this can be compared to the coastline paradox, it depends on how one measures. Things can certainly seem worse now than fifty years ago but go back a hundred years and you find the Spanish flu, world war one, communists conquering Europe and you don’t find much medicine, low infant mortality and long lifespans. That’s the irony of the Coronavirus in our days, it only kills people who would have already been dead if they lived 100 years ago. However this is also very sad because we have the technology and ability to curb these types of outbreaks. We simply would rather argue and blame others than look at the bottom line.

Now that this will be shadow banned, I have the freedom to write candidly because no one will read it. Even though we live in a time were big tech companies can shadow ban arguments of which they don’t agree, we still live in the best of times, so far. Perception is reality and because the prophecy pundits see a world getting worse and worse, their world is worse. One usually hits that at which they aim. Nevertheless we aim at the wrong thing. And all of this comes down to not truly considering the context and aspirations of author when reading the Bible.

My main argument is this: search the Scripture for yourself and consider the context, aspirations of the author to his audience, genre, exegesis of examples, and then divide rightly the word of truth, putting aside preconceived notions and presuppositions and taught traditions. As an example look at the dubious dogma of the Jehovah’s Witness, where Jesus was not God but a god. John’s gospel account goes to great lengths to refute this, long before Charles Taze Russell had his epiphany. Again, it is easy to see the dubious dogma in others but it is much more difficult to see our own. Much of this is because we hold our overtasked and underpaid pastors too to high a standard. We forget that they are sheep as well and many only regurgitate that which they have been taught because they don’t have the time to delve deep into the Scripture due to our neediness of them for every little hardship or trial. What’s worse is the overpaid and under-tasked pastors who pen books on prophecy, making millions from your hard earned money. These are worse than the government. They feed you lies and falsehoods, robbing you.

You can read the Bible for yourself and the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics can help.

Jesus did not come to pass judgment upon the world but to bring light to the nations. He does this by his followers preaching the true gospel of the kingdom to said nations, through his Spirit. But Lord willing, we will get to this later in John’s gospel account. But this is the best part–you don’t have to wait for me. If my missives are available to you, the Bible is available to you. I guess that’s part of living in the worst of times. Context is king and not perception.

Look at the context of the Bible and see the sublime string. Then and only then, look at the headlines and ask if we are to reflect the light of Christ to a dark world? Yet also, keep John within his aspiration to his immediate audience, to whom he wrote, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not ccomprehend it.”

“He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

The Bible is a tale of two cities, earthly Jerusalem who puts their faith in themselves and the heavenly Jerusalem, who places their faith in Jesus Christ. And not in unfounded, far-off fulfillment but the completed work of his cross. It’s time to exchange earthly Jerusalem for the Jerusalem above, where Jesus is seated on the right hand of the father, reigning over his beloved creation, until he makes all enemies a footstool, the last being death. It’s high time for a cultural climate exchange.

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