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+ The Ultimate Intention +
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"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1
Science posits the "how" of everything back to a single event that they have named "The Big Bang". To some thinking people, the idea of a "Big Bang" leaves a huge credibility gap, for it proposes that we got something, indeed everything, from nothing, yet science itself and convential wisdom teaches us that there is no such thing as a "free lunch". About anything that might preceed the Big Bang, evolutionary science is silent. Having declared nothing existed before the Bang science has "burnt it's bridges", both philosophically and rhetorically.
However, Bang or no Bang, there is a growing acknowledgement among scientists, not necessarily religous, of the evidence of design in creation. These include eminent scholars, disillusioned by the paucity of evolutionary theory and who recognise, through their scientific specialties, that every corner of creation bears silent witness to intelligence and purpose. This realisation builds a "Bridge", back beyond the "Bang". In this writing we will speculate before Creation, whether or not a Big Bang and ask the ultimate question, "why" and for what purpose?
As noted above, scientists studying the marvellous intricacies of biology are rejecting the mindlessness of Evolution, realising that creation is witness to intelligence and purpose. Long ago, Paul said, "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made . . ." Romans 1:20. If so, then among those "invisible attributes", is the "Intelligence" which was a 'first cause' creating, with reason and purpose, all that we are now able to observe. It simply follows, that this Intelligence must be the 'first cause' and therefore the Creator, however perceived. This Creator is logically, the Power we call "God". Both science and revealed history bears witness to the work of such a Creator God and points us to His "Ultimate Intention". It is irrefutable that an all powerful Intelligence would not commence a work, without an "end" or purpose in view.
Having said that, we must consider 'The Nature of God'. The conventional answers given to a questioner are many and varied. Most will argue from Church Creeds and for Jesus usually propose some form of pre-existence and incarnation, describing a "Godhead" of two or three divine Beings. The most common doctrine by those who style themselves as "Orthodoxy", proposes God as three Persons, a Trinity.
Some, of Arian persuasion, argue that Jesus pre-existed in a separate angelic-like form. However, for most of Christendom, the aforementioned Trinity doctrine is taken as the last word. It is not the purpose of this study to specifically comment on the Trinity Doctrine*, which we deal with elsewhere but to offer an alternative understanding that conforms easily to the Biblical revelation. * Click Link to go to "The Trinity Questioned"
Some will question my competence to challenge or even discuss the ancient and established doctrines of the church. You must let the argument speak for itself and diligently "compare Scripture with Scripture" and be as the nobel Bereans who " . . . searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Acts 17:11. I am a firm believer that the revelation of Scripture was not addressed to a small select ecclesiastical establishment. Nor were certain groups given editorial rights to the sacred manuscripts. When Jesus said, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: . . ." John 16:13, He was speaking to ordinary folk, fishermen and the like. I do not suggest we just reject scholarship but we ensure that what we accept is witnessed to by the plain text of Scripture and more particularly conforms to the "overview", comparing Scripture with Scripture. Almost anything can be "proven" by the careful use of a few "proof texts" and eloquent rhetoric, contradicting the clear teaching of Scripture.
The great scholar and martyr William Tyndale believed the Bible is to be read as a whole, and the words accepted for what they are; "for it tells a tale that any man or woman can understand, without being ordained, or studying theology." Tyndale is recorded to have also said: “The scriptures are a true light that instruct us ‘both what to do and what to hope'; they are a defence from all error, and a solace and consolation.” He further counselled the acceptance of the plain text and literal sense. 'Cleave unto the texte and the playne storye,' he advised his readers. Then, concerning scholars who argued on the meanings behind the clear meaning, of such he called, - 'idle disputers and brawlers about vain words . . . ever gnawing on the bitter bark without and never attaining the sweet pith within’. [Loosely from “If God Spare My Life” William Tyndale by Brian Moynahan]
Therefore, answering the "why" before the Big Bang, we will suggest another scenario which we believe is faithful to the Scriptures and ascribes glory to the divine Persons, according to revelation. This teaching may be described as Biblical Unitarianism, however, as with all such “tags” that name suggests a variety of connotations with which we don’t necesarily identify, because it does not rightly perceive the majesty of God’s “Ultimate Intention”. This is a revelation that can be explained to and understood by, those to whom it is given.
A Thumbnail: Described briefly and simply - there is one God, Creator, King of the Universe, the Father Almighty, who according to His own intention, in the fullness of time, through His Holy Spirit, begat a Son with a human woman, Miriam (Mary). This unique Conception was declared to be both Son of God and Son of Man, who from a natural birth grew up in a human community and received the full public approval of His Father before whom He lived in unbroken, loving, close communion. After a short period of public ministry about the age of 30, in absolute obedience, this beloved Son, voluntarily laid down His life and future glory, willingly shedding His blood and dying on a cruel cross, to win back for His Father a fallen Creation, Colossians 1:20,21 (KJV) "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled" As a reward of that obedience, the Almighty Father raised Him from the dead unto immortality and glorified Him above all creatures, setting Him down at His own right hand, "the Majesty on high", exactly according to His divine purpose. (Hebrews 12:2) At the time appointed, Jesus will return and raise the righteous dead and together with the surviving saints, put down all opposition and establish the Kingdom of God here on earth and reign over it for 1000 years. At the present time, Jesus intercedes with His Father on our behalf while together they interact with humanity, by or through the Holy Spirit. - That is a brief overview, in the following I hope to address in more detail, some of the questions that arise.
Trinitarians teach equality among the perceived “persons” of the Godhead. I fear however, in doing so, they trespass on the ineffable glory of the Almighty, for the Scripture is clear, the Father and the Son are not equal, whatever the church councils or the creeds of man may say. We must heed the Scripture. "Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I." John 14:28 “When all things are subjected to him, [Jesus] then the Son himself will also be subjected to him [the Father] who put all things in subjection under him, [Jesus] that God [the Father] may be all in all.” 1 Corinthians 15:28 and also “Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he [the Father] put all things under his [Jesus] feet and gave him [Jesus] as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him [the Father] who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:21-23
Note, Ephesians speaks of a future glory of the Son, not an eternal glory that always existed as the Trinity doctrine teaches, although clearly that future glory existed in the Father's intention, from the beginning. In the Hebraic mind, there is a condition described as "here now but not yet". It proposes that what God intends is in a sense already existing. They are called proleptic sayings - The Prophetic Past Tense. This Hebrew literary technique concerns future things or events that are anticipated, yet said as already existing. (See Figures of Speech used in the Bible. Bullinger) e.g. Joshua 6:2: “And Jehovah went on to say to Joshua: "See, I have given Jericho and its king, the valiant mighty men, into your hand.” This was stated before the city had been subdued by Joshua’s forces. John 17 has numerous proleptic sayings, switching in and out of prolepsis. “He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life.” John 3:36. Another example in Hebrews 7:9,10 (KJV) "And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him." The same technique can be seen throughout Scripture.
If Jesus was "the only begotten Son", then to be "begotten" means He had a beginning. Creedal language like "eternally begotten" is an oxymoron, a meaningless contradiction. "A begotten son is ruled out once the Son is made to predate his begetting!" Sir Anthony Buzzard
If we take an overview of the Biblical revelation, we find in fact, that it was to have a true begotten Son that was God’s “Ultimate Intention” and the reason for all else that is. To many thinking believers, the Trinitarian opinion raises questions about the true humanity of Jesus, it also casts doubt upon the genuine possibility of the temptation and the efficacy of the atonement. [ See The Atonement ] In fact the whole idea of an immortal Being becoming mortal and dying, in the full knowledge of His inevitable immortality raises difficult if not unanswerable philosophical doubts and questions.
However, we will not go there just now as Trinitarians have sophisticated, if somewhat convoluted arguments with regard to these matters and because, in the light of what this writing proposes, those arguments, either way, are not ultimately relevant. Jesus is not some incomprehensible incarnation but exactly as recorded in Holy Scripture. Luke reported Him as “Son of God and Son of Man” fully human and glorious "first-born" heir to divinity. Certainly, God is revealed in Jesus in the same manner and more so, that every father is represented in his offspring. This is what God had intended from the beginning of creation. Jesus is the ultimate “why”, of all that is. The "second Adam". Adam was "made", Jesus was "begotten".
Simply put, Jesus is the reason for the universe, in particular, this "privileged planet" and all the creatures, including ultimately, human beings made in God’s “likeness and image”. This creation and mankind are the environment, the physical construct in which and whereby God would bring about His very own completeness. The Hebrew text translated in our Bibles “I am that I am” might more correctly be translated “I will be that I will be”. In a sense, a part of creation is God changing, extending, according to His own will and purpose. Revealing Himself through that which He has made. Romans 1:20.
To create beings with whom the Almighty God could have intimate fellowship involved an immense risk as only a being with the power of self-will, the ability to refuse, could truly, voluntarily love and be one with it's Maker. I’ll suggest that it was not God’s original intention that Adam should sin(1), but when Adam fell, in the fulness of time, Jesus, God’s only begotten Son in absolute willing obedience, laid down His life and future glory to make peace between His Father’s unequivocal justice and boundless love, for the worlds and beings which He had created and through whom Jesus himself, had become His Father's fulfillment of His “Ultimate Intention”.
In the entire universe throughout eternity, there could be neither a greater sacrifice, nor a more appropriate offering that could make atonement. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" but only with the Son's trusting, obedience - "not my will but thine be done". It was not in the sure knowledge of an eternal, immortal, "co-existence" that Jesus "endured the cross, despising the shame" but rather "for the joy that was set before Him". Hebrews 12:2.
A God/Man, Son of God and Son of Man, was the ultimate purpose of creation. The Apostles understood this . . . it was a man-centred church, much later, that lost the plot and introduced pagan principles into their theology thereby losing sight both of the nature of man and of the glorious truth of the true nature of God and His intention for the universe.
"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet" Psalm 8:3-6
Adam’s rebellion was not the first, already, in aeons past, some members of the angelic host had coveted God’s throne and as a result there had been mayhem in the heavenlies. Some think that the earth, "without form and void" in Genesis 1:2, became so as a consequence of this rebellion and the subsequent casting out of Lucifer. It appears that, in a sense, like the human body, God’s creation needed an adversary in its 'system' that a natural immunity might develop. A true loving relationship is the free expression of the will in the presence of alternatives, a condition that cannot just be "created", even by God. True love must "grow" (or be grown) from a free choice.
It is interesting that in preaching Salvation we forget the promise in Eden that, "The seed of the woman shall crush the serpent's head". We have become so 'self-centred' that we forget God had eternal issues of authority to settle that went far beyond human redemption. Our gospel has become 'man centred' not God centred. Paul understood that the scope of reconciliation extended far beyond this planet. “… through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:20
Eventually, according to divine design, we redeemed humans will be "changed" and become heirs to the universe, "joint heirs with Christ". This small “privileged planet” is only the focal point, a nursery, the chosen location in time and space, where God is realising His purposes and "in the fullness of time", His “Ultimate Intention”. - God's eternal purpose, to unite with His Creation and beget a Son, "after their kind", was fulfilled in Jesus.
This world is like a laboratory in space/time where a “serum” was developed that would eventually “sin-proof” all who might, in perfect love and liberty, serve and enjoy God forever. For that to be possible, it was necessary for God to first allow and then put down the rebellion and restore His original, divine rule and purpose throughout space/time creation. This is what the Gospel is ultimately about. The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Since Pentecost, we have the word picture in Acts. Peter, describing Jesus glorified, he said, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Acts 2:36. And, writing later to the Colossians 1:19 "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell".
Also, Stephen at the time of his death by stoning, saw Jesus sitting at the right hand of God Almighty awaiting the Father’s time for the command to return and take authority over planet Earth. “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55,56.
When we grasp this picture, we see the reason for so much of what previously, has been a mystery. We see God working out His purpose. In John 1:1 “In the beginning was the intention …” If some translators hadn’t read their own doctrine into this verse we would have more easily caught the glory of the story when John declared in verse 14 that the logos, (the intention) “… became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." The purpose of the ages, the reason for all that was and is, an "only begotten", natural born Son of God, "according to their kind". Son of God, Son of Man.
Paul alludes to this wonder in magnificent prose in Ephesians 1 where he speaks of “the Father of glory” being the “God of our Lord Jesus Christ” and then goes on to rhapsodise about the “Ultimate Intention”. Verse 20,21 are the glorious fulfilment, described above - that which was spoken by Peter at Pentecost and witnessed by Stephen as he died.
In Ephesians 1:9-23 "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he [the Father] might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: … 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he [the Father] worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." What could one add to such majestic prose? "having the eyes of your hearts enlightened".
Another glimpse of the “Ultimate Intention” is seen in 1 Corinthians 15. As is often Paul’s way, he is prolific in his use of pronouns and a careful reading is necessary to properly identify the antecedent. Note that Paul is speaking of two persons, one subservient to the other. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 "Then cometh the end, when he (Jesus) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he (Jesus) shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he (Jesus) must reign, till he (God) hath put all enemies under his (Jesus) feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he (God) hath put all things under his (Jesus) feet. But when he (God) saith, all things are put under him, (Jesus) it is manifest that he (God) is excepted, which did put all things under him (Jesus). 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him (Jesus), then shall the Son (Jesus) also himself be subject unto him (God) that put all things under him (Jesus), that God may be all in all.
The Apostolic writings make so abundantly clear, the distinct natures and the unique relationship of Father and Son and the manner in which the promised Spirit worked, that it is hard to understand the strenuous exegetical efforts or countenance the translation liberties and the text-tampering of scribes to support what has been enforced as common doctrine. What we see clearly in Scripture is One God, the Father Almighty, who in the fulness of time and according to His own sovereign intention created a locus and an environment, where He might beget, according to His own eternal laws of reproduction, as declared and implimented at Creation, "after their kind" - a Son.
Further, it pleased the Father that He would place this Son in authority over all He had made. (See 1 Cor. 24,25 above.) Jesus, the Son, is the true bridge between Creator and Creation, both Son of God and Son of Man. These are not figures of speech, or a theological formula - they are a biological fact.
Now if, as a result of what has been revealed, there exists the exalted person of Jesus the Son, as a now immortal “second person”, it is indeed so. But not as an eternal, ethereal emanation of a “Godhead” but as a distinct, divine/human person, a (unique) only begotten Son. The Ultimate Intention of Almighty God. If this means there are now two independent beings to whom may be ascribed the title of "divinity", that is the Almighty Father’s business and not for dispute with man's creeds or the vanity of human theologians to protest or explain away with dogma or illogical formula.
Remember, when the Sh’ma, [Deut.6:4] the great Jewish precept of monotheism, was declared, Jesus was only the grand proleptic, the divine “Intention”! This of course is what the apostle John wrote in John 1:1, as mentioned earlier, John declared what we have sought to describe here, “… the intention (logos) was in the beginning …” There was always the intention. It was because of that “Intention” that all things were made, "through Him and for Him" so that in the fulness of time, the (divine) Intention might be realised when it “… became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth".
Read the full report. Luke 1:28-33. "And the angel came in unto her, [Mary] and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
If we consider the Spirit breathed Epistles, for example, the passage quoted above, 1 Cor. 15:24-28 understood in the light of John 16:12,13* there is a clear picture of One God and in due time, His “only begotten Son” as two distinct persons who are not equal, the Son is subservient to the Father, but in love, by free choice they both operate in complete harmony, in an “oneness” that eventually we shall all share as heirs by adoption and rulers in the Universe. John 17:11 "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are."
*John 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Many will argue the meanings of individual verses and seek to refute what we are proposing but we are satisfied that it does not seem reasonable to build our faith on a few scattered verses that might be construed or interpreted to appear to support a doctrine which mishapes the otherwise glorious revelation of God’s nature and His “Ultimate Intention”.
Much more could be written but I am persuaded that with prayerful study of Scripture and a good measure of the common sense with which we have been created, directed by the promised Holy Spirit (John 16:13) we eventually arrive at a believable and Biblically faithful understanding of the truth of God’s nature and His Ultimate Intention, of which this writing may only be a faint, misty glimmer.
(1) Little is said in this regard, as the “Fall” is portrayed as the opportunity for God to demonstrate His love. If as is often said, these things are a great mystery and beyond our comprehension, we must then ask, “why did God mention it?”. Methinks that the words of Isaac Newton, are relevant. “Tis the temper of the hot and superstitious part of mankind in matters of religion ever to be fond of mysteries and for that reason to like best what they understand least.” Why would God create so much confusion by revealing what we could not understand? Can we really conceive of God deliberately intending the evil and suffering that has filled the last 6000 years. Of the Almighty Father really wanting to have a Son to kill. I think not. Of course some will rightly point out, that God knew what would happen and what must be, according to His omniscient foreknowledge but it was finally Adam’s choice.
The English Standard Version of the Bible has generally been used in this writing.
Keith Relf, November 2009