Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Celestial Thesis

Now that we have a better understanding concerning the true nature of God, our Heavenly Father, that we all lived with Him in Heaven in a pre-mortal existence before coming to this earth, that we were among the sons and daughters of God who shouted for joy when He laid the foundation for our earthly abode, that Jesus is our brother and every one of us are true brothers and sisters, that we are to worship a true and living God instead of an all pervasive and incomprehensible essence, that we are to love and treat our neighbor as we would ourselves, and that we are to have the courage to stand up and be counted for our convictions, let’s ask the big question: What is the purpose of coming to this earth and suffering through all that we do? We are told that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philip. 2:12-13.) This is true, but why? Is it just to praise God, or does He have a much higher purpose in mind?

Our Father is a just God, and His love for His children is perfect. His magnificent grace exceeds anything we mortals can imagine, and He wishes the maximum blessing for those who desire to receive all that He has to give. And what is it He has to give? In my study of the Holy Bible I find a thread running through it that I believe answers that question, but in searching out the answer we come to some thoughts that are vehemently rejected by most of Christendom. So please bear with me as we consider a thesis—one I call, the Celestial Thesis.

For those who believe that the Holy Bible is perfect, complete, and contains all that God wants us to have from Him, there is no hope for further enlightenment. Nevertheless, there is hope for those who know that the Bible is God’s word, regardless of the fact that it leaves many questions unanswered because of having been tampered with. While accepting it as God’s word, as far as we have it, we are to put our individual effort into it to discern the truths it contains. With this said, let’s get to what the maximum blessing is that our Father in Heaven has to offer.

The Ancient of Days and the Son of Man
Recall that we learned that the Son became the Father because He eventually received the fulness of the Father. Jesus Christ became, then, both the Father and the Son because He received all that the Father has; yet, at the same time, they both retaining their separate identities.

This inheritance that Jesus received is touched upon by the Prophet Daniel. Among the many difficult passages in the book of Daniel, those pertaining to the “Ancient of days” are no exception. There is only one reference to the Ancient of days in the entire Bible, and that one is found in Daniel, Chapter Seven. The relevant verses of that chapter are as follows:

“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” (vv. 9-10.) “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (vv. 13-14.) “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” (vv. 21-22.)

Within these verses we read of two separate individuals, one is called the “Ancient of days” and the other is referred to as the “one like the Son of man.” Most people seem to believe that the Ancient of Days is Jehovah of the Old Testament, or Jesus Christ. If that is the case, then, who is the “one like the son of man” who receives “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him”?

Read verses 9-10 again and see how the Ancient of days is described. What a glorious and magnificent individual this one is, with an innumerable amount of beings administering to Him. Clearly, this Ancient of Days is far superior to the “one like the Son of man,” for the former bestows upon the latter, dominion, glory, a kingdom, and calls for all people, nations, and languages to serve the one like the Son of man. It should be clear to the reader that the Ancient of Days could NOT be Jesus Christ; He is none other than our Father in Heaven, and that the one like the Son of man is Jesus Christ.

Verses 13-14 are not so clear because of the use of so many pronouns. Let’s, therefore, add a little clarification by way of parentheses that might help us understand who is being referred to here, along with words in brackets that replace pronouns:

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man (Jesus Christ) came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days (the Father), and they brought [the Son of God] near before [the Father]. And there was given [the Son] dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: [the Son’s] dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

What does the term, “Son of man” mean? Both the Hebrew and Greek words used for this term simply refers to one who is born as a son child of a human individual. It is noted that when the term “son of man” is used generally, the word “son” is spelled with a lower case letter “s,” but when it makes reference to deity, as in the Son of God, the “S” is capitalized—just as it is in Daniel 7:13 of the Authorized King James Version. This rule is exemplified in both the Old and New Testaments, except in the Book of Ezekiel where it is unclear how it is used, the “s” being capitalized some of the time and not capitalized in others. So, generally, it appears that the term “Son of man,” as used in this verse, refers to Jesus Christ; for in Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked the question, “...Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” And in Matthew 18 verse 11 we read, “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” This being the case, then, the Ancient of days must be some other individual than Christ Jesus. Right? Yes! And that personage is the Father of us all.

So what are we reading in verses 13 and 14 of Daniel seven? As with Daniel’s recording of future end-time events, he also recorded the future time when Christ will inherit His eternal glory, His everlasting dominion, and His never ending kingdom from His, and our, Heavenly Father, the Ancient of days.

Being One in Christ
What is it we read in John 17:21? As the Savior was praying to the Father about His disciples, He said, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us:..” Here we learn that Jesus wants all of His disciples to be one, even as He and the Father are one. We are to be one with the Father and the Son. If they are Gods, how can we be one with them if we are not like them? Does that question shock the reader? I am sure that some are horror-struck at the idea, even infuriated. Nevertheless, we know that the Savior does not lie, so what He said to His disciples must be true: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” (John 10:34.) Is Jesus saying that His disciples were gods, or was He pointing out that they had the capacity to become such, and that they are all to be one in Christ as He is with the Father? He was merely saying that His disciples were gods because they had godlike potential, and upon their enduring to the end in faithfulness, they would become such. However, it just hadn’t been manifested yet.

We find that Christ received “all things” that the Father has. John records that the Savior said, “All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:15.) The word “shew” comes from the Greek word, anaggello, (an-ang-el-lo), meaning to announce or declare. What is it that the Father is to announce or declare to Jesus’ disciples? He is announcing that they, too, will receive all that the Father has. Since Jesus is God because He received all that the Father has, would His disciples not also become gods by receiving all that the Father has? Is not the grandest display of a father’s love the desire to share all that he possesses with his children, and be willing to sacrifice his most prized possession to assure that inheritance for them? God is not someone teasing us with something we cannot have. He does not offer a child a piece of candy and then snatch it away as the child reaches for it. What He declares to us, He intends to grant—upon our faithfulness, of course.

We considered earlier that Jesus doesn’t do anything except what the Father has done. “... The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what thing soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John 5:19.) If we are to be one with the Father and the Son, we will do as they do. How can we do as the Father and the Son does if we do not become like them, also?

We Shall Be Like Him
When the Apostle Paul was comparing the differences in the resurrection, he compared them to the heavenly bodies: the sun being more glorious than the moon, the moon brighter than the stars, and one star being more brilliant than another star. He gave a name to the most glorious bodies, that of celestial. (see 1 Cor. 15:35-42.) Would not God dwell in the most glorious of kingdoms, and would not His glorious resurrected body be celestial in nature? Paul was not just sharing something with the Corinthians for the fun of it. He was trying to tell those saints that there are celestial possibilities for them after the resurrection, that of being like the Father and the Son, and dwelling where they dwell.

We also read earlier where Paul said, “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” (1 Cor. 8:5-6.) Here Paul said there are many lords and many gods. Where did all of these gods come from? They apparently have gone through similar experiences not unlike what we are experiencing on this earth, and were resurrected to a glorious celestial order. However, as mentioned earlier, the only gods we are concerned with are God the Father and His Son, Jesus the Christ. Just as there are many fathers and many sons, a particular son is only responsible toward his respective father, not all the other fathers. And so it is with our responsibility toward God, our Heavenly Father.

Let’s consider John’s statement again when he said, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3.) It stands to reason that if we are going to be like Jesus when He returns, we must possess celestial godlike attributes. Also, if the faithful and hopeful become pure as Jesus is pure, if they become holy as He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16), if they become perfect as their Father in Heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48), they cannot help but be like Him and therefore be godlike in nature.

Lucifer’s Rebellion
At this point, let’s consider Lucifer’s rejection from heaven due to his rebellion. The general belief among Christian clergy appears to be that he was cast out of heaven because he wanted to be as god. This is not altogether true, and it’s not the entire story.

Referring to the time before mortal man dwelt upon this earth, Ezekiel wrote: “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.” (Ezk. 28:14.)

Before man’s mortality, Lucifer was “the anointed cherub ... upon the holy mountain of God.” But what happened? The Prophet Isaiah gives us a little more insight into this story when he said, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isa. 14:12-14.) Not only did Lucifer want to be as God, but he desired and rebelled in his heart to be exalted over all of God’s creations, exalting his thrown above that of God’s. He received a little glory and pride took over.

In the pre-earth life, he was known as Lucifer; we mortals upon earth know him as Satan; he is the devil that deceives and torments man; he is referred to in Holy Writ as the dragon; he is the adversary and the tempter; and those angels who followed him are demons, devils, and unclean spirits. Lucifer’s revolt against God resulted in his being cast down to earth, along with one-third of the host of heaven that followed him. John spoke of this in his book of Revelation:

3. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon [Lucifer],...
4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven [the angels that followed Lucifer], and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman [the Church of Christ] which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child [the Messiah] as soon as it was born.
7. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8. And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9. And the great dragon [Lucifer] was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (See Rev. 12:3-9)

This rebellion of Lucifer ended up in a war in heaven (v. 7). Of course that war was not a war of guns and swords, but of words and ideological conflicts. Lucifer sought to dethrone God, to sit himself up above all things, and rebelled against God’s holy laws.

However, even though Lucifer was cast out of heaven and down to earth, he is still granted a title; this is why Jesus referred to him as “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30), and the Apostle Paul spoke of him as “the god of this world,” and “the prince of the power of the air” (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2). And being the prince of this world, Satan’s pride and arrogance brought him to the point of even bribing Jesus with the things of the world—the things which Jesus, Himself, created in the first place. (Matt. 4:1-11.)

And what about those one-third that followed Lucifer (Rev. 12:4) in that war in heaven? They were children of Heavenly Father who were destined to take upon themselves an earthly mortality like the rest of us; but they were cast down to the earth without physical bodies as Lucifer was. And since those evil spirits have no bodies to inhabit (which they could have had), they seek habitation in the bodies of mortals; these are the unclean spirits and devils we read about whom Jesus cast out. And they are the demons who continue to do the same today; which was briefly touched upon in Chapter Two entitled, “Pre-Mortality of Mankind.”

I realize that all of this is hard for many to reckon with, and some would even regard it as an attempt by others to dethrone God and steal the glory due Him as Lucifer tried to do. But on the contrary. It is as God intends it to be, not as man wants it. Lucifer’s sin was not the desiring of godhood, it was that he wanted ALL the glory for himself (above the stars of God), whereas Jesus wanted to glorify the Father in His work. Lucifer tried to usurp God’s glory, whereas our Father wants to bestow glory upon the faithful. As an honorable son adds to the stature of his father by following after him, so we add to the stature and glory of our Father in Heaven by becoming as He is. In so doing, we inherit all that the Father has, and dwell with Him and the Only Begotten in the highest heavenly celestial realms. Is not a son wanting to be just like his father the ultimate indication of love and the highest form of praise to his father? So what is inherently wrong in desiring what the Father has to offer and promises those who are faithful?

God Offers the Maximum Blessing
As we began this discussion, the question was asked, What is the purpose of coming to this earth? Mortality is but a flicker within the expanse of eternity. We are in a probationary state, a proving ground, a place of testing some call it. It might be compared to a father sending his child away to college. How that child performs in school determines how the remainder of his life plays out.

What are we going to be doing when we pass to the other side of the veil? Are we to just sit on a cloud, play a harp and praise the Lord? Such may seem to be the thing to do for the sanctimonious, but sitting on a cloud throughout all eternity could become tremendously boring and without much significance. Personally, with all due respect and loving consideration, I can just as well praise God here in mortality where there is a variety of things to accomplish with purpose and family to be with.

If God blessed us with a family to love, why would he take that away from us after death? If God is love then love is eternal, for God is eternal. And if we truly love a spouse and our children with that eternal love in this life, that love will last throughout all eternity—forever. Would not God be unjust if He blessed us with such an eternal love in this life and then ripped that relationship apart in the next? He is NOT an unjust Father. We are significant to Him and He has a meaningful purpose for us.

I don’t mean to be flippant here, for praising God is a vital part of our existence both here and hereafter, but let’s put on our thinking caps for a moment. God created all the animal world with some measure of mental processing of their own, but none so refined as that of mankind. The Creator did not endow us with such a mind for the purpose of doing very little with it. He wants us to use it to the max in an eternal creative perspective.

However, as sinners, we cannot inherit such possible celestial realms, for no such beings dwell there. The Father loves us so much that He sacrificed His most beloved Son to help ensure that celestial inheritance for His children, that is, if we will only desire it, forsake sin, and follow Him at all cost during this mortal probation. And what is the purpose of mortality? As stated earlier, it is our earthly school that prepares us to progress, create, and have a heavenly life of fulfillment. For all these experiences, either in joy or sorrow, we give God the Father, and His only Begotten Son, all the praise and glory.

Does the reader believe the words of Jesus Christ? If so, they will have to believe what He said when He uttered these words: “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matt. 21:22.) Our Father wishes the maximum blessing for those who desire to receive all that He has to give. The operative word here is “desire.” We must desire His gift. If we do not believe He has such a gift to offer, how can we desire it? If we do not desire it, we certainly will not pray for it. And if we do not pray for it, believing we will receive it, it absolutely will not be.

If you truly believe that your Father in Heaven wants to bless you with an inheritance, such as He has, and you show your sincerity through faith, obedience and enduring to the end, then you shall receive it, for Jesus said you will. Many believe that such a doctrine is blasphemy. What truly is blasphemy is to call God a liar.

Lucifer has no other interest than to see the Father’s plan destroyed and His children disinherited. Are you going to reject that inheritance and throw it away just because it seems to be a foreign idea, or repugnant to those who are too smug to have the faith to believe? Are you going to let the false traditions of your fathers, and their erroneous interpretation of scripture, spiritually stifle you? The old devil desires nothing more, and would have it no other way.

In consideration of our current discussion, it might be valuable if the reader thought upon the following verse a little. John the Revelator, speaking of Jesus Christ, said that He, JESUS, “... hath made us kings and priests unto GOD and HIS FATHER; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1:6.)

In my personal studies, and through sincere prayer, I am convinced that the Holy Bible has been tampered with in past years and many pure truths muddied through various traditional dogmas by those who had their own agendas other than God’s. The passages considered in this chapter have been weighed, their relationship to one another regarded, and the underlying implications of the whole considered. And in reality, truth will stand on its own merits.