Background: I’m convinced the Cross is central to all of existence. If the Word is what drives all of life, the Cross is what the Word rests upon. Before time, during earth time and after time the Cross is found. All we have to do is look. All we have to do is “lift up our eyes.”
Paul of Tarsus is the only human who visited heaven and then returned to earth. He was told not to reveal any details. But in one of his letters he let the cat out of the bag. “I resolved to know nothing...except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
That tells me the Cross IS everywhere. In heaven, on earth, on every page of the bible. The Cross is the secret to Christ-like living on a daily basis. What would Jesus do? He’d die to his flesh.
When asked what was of “first importance,” Paul didn’t hesitate to reveal what he had learned from his own trip to heaven. It was “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the (Scriptures).” Not that Jesus lived an amazing life or that he performed astounding miracles. No, it was that Jesus died on the Cross for sin according to the script laid down in advance. (1st Corinthians 15:3)
Story: Buried in one of the most boring sections of the bible is found the Cross in all its glory. Isn’t God just like that? Numbers 2 describes in mind-numbing detail how the various tribes were to set up camp around the central hub of the priest’s families. Here’s how it breaks down:
22.300 Levites were to camp in the center hub around the Tabernacle, indicated by the “X”
186,000–those from the tribes of Judah, Isaachar and Zebulin were to camp on the east side of the Tabernacle
158,000–those from the tribes of Dan, Asher and Naphtali, to the north side
151,000–those from Reuben, Simeon and Gad, to the south side
108,000–those from Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin, to the west side
When you plot this out proportionately, this is what it would look like from the air:
151K-------------|------------158k ----------> North
Comments: Why would God do this? To witness to onlookers! In Numbers 23-24 the evil prophet Balaam views the tribes from this birds-eye perspective. “And in the morning Balak took Balaam and brought him up to Bamoth-baal, and from there he saw a fraction of the people.” Numbers 24:2 says, “And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him...”
Balaam saw the Cross when he “lifted up his eyes.” God took him into another dimension where he even saw Jesus hanging from that living Cross.
Besides Israel’s enemies, angels and saints would see the Cross. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight...looking to Jesus...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross...” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
If there is life on nearby planets and they had telescope-like vision, they’d see the Cross outlined in the white sands.
Jesus himself points out the Cross in John 3:14-15, recalling when Moses had been instructed to raise up a pole with a bronze serpent in Numbers 21. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” Note the term “lifted up.” As I say here, that indicates a door opening into another dimension. I’m convinced the movements Moses made in raising the pole were identical to those of the Roman soldiers 1500 years later. Those looking at the bronze serpent for healing even saw fleeting visions of Jesus hanging on that pole. That’s God’s love at work.
I believe God had Israel multitasking during their 38 years of wandering in the Sinai. With their million feet-prints leaving large swaths in the sand, they were drawing the Cross. Not only that, I believe they were also writing the Torah letter by letter in giant letters for witnesses to contemplate. Satan’s counterfeit would be the Nazca lines of Peru.
When Jesus bent down in the sand to write, as John 8:6 records, will you be surprised to someday learn he drew a Cross? Didn’t all of life, all our sins, play out on the Cross? Wouldn’t the Cross be the great truth-detector that would cause the woman’s accusers to come unglued as they saw their sins displayed by the Ultimate Hidden Camera?
The Cross is everywhere. It’s the centerpiece of heaven before time began. It’s the Tree of Life “in the midst of the garden” of Eden. It’s indelibly etched on planet Earth. It’s the tree of life in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22) whose leaves are “for the healing of the nations.”
The Cross is even infused in our very bodies as the protein molecule laminin. Colossians 1:17 says “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” That is the function of the laminin glycoprotein, to hold cells together. Which of course is simply an expression of DNA which is simply an expression of God’s Word.
A sort-of cult
Background: I’m a charismatic at heart. After all, I was “born again” during the Jesus Movement in 1971. When I relocated to Williamsport in 1979 as cameraman for WBRE-TV’s Central PA News Bureau, I joined the Door Fellowship since that was where many “Jesus Freaks” attended.
Two years later The Door, under Pastor Wayne Holcomb’s guidance, started promoting the scortched-earth policy of “disfellowshipping.” Anyone who disagreed with the church, anyone whom the church deemed a threat to their operation, was told to leave and not come back unless they repented of their ways.
In a last-minute attempt to be a spokesman for many who had already left, I wrote the following letter to Pastor Wayne. Here’s what I said:
When Paul was teaching on marriage in the seventh chapter of 1st Corinthians, he had the wisdom to distinguish between his own opinion and direct commands from the Lord. So should it be with any follower of Christ. Whatever we say or write should be tempered by the concurrent revelation of the source of our information. Is it a direct command from the Father Himself as recorded in the Bible? Or is it only our personal perception of things based on our current understanding of, and relationship with, the Lord?
Most of what comes out of the mouths of christians is just that–their own opinion. If we could keep that in mind we wouldn’t take each other as seriously as we do and we would avoid many fruitless arguments, bruised egos and severed relationships.
We Christians like to impress others with the weight of our words. We want our listeners to think that we have a connection with God that’s better than anyone else’s. Yet the undeniable fact is all of us rely on the same two sources of information. The first source is the Holy Spirit, who speaks to us in a still, small voice we rarely chose to listen to. The second source is the small mass of gray matter inside our skull that knows so little. Clearly, our words fade in importance and punch when we take ourselves into account.
As men and women of an infinitely complex heavenly Father, we should swallow our pride and admit that we now see through a glass darkly. Anything we say is imperfect compared to the perfect words of our Lord as recorded in the bible.
Let us lay down our pride, put away our guns and say along with Paul...“in my opinion.”
In my opinion, the central issue at the Door Fellowship is not submission or prophecy or Pentecostal traditions but rather, the Door’s definition of unity. They would probably define unity as everyone thinking and acting as one. In other words, everyone doing the same thing. If achieving that sort of unity is their goal, then their task is threefold. First, boil down the complexities of Christianity into simplified, neatly packaged doctrines. Second, present these doctrines in a manner that only allows that one particular point of view to be heard. And three, eliminate any dissenting views or differing opinions.
The fact is God never intended unity among the brethren to mean similarity among the brethren. When Jesus prayed that the church would be one, he gave as an analogy of unity the relationship between Himself and the Father. It should be obvious to us that these two spiritual entities are similar in their purpose but not similar in their function and composition.
Our own definition of unity should therefore mesh with this example. Christians are in unity when their purpose–to glorify the Lord–is similar. However, their function in the body can be different (for example, “are all apostles?”) and their composition (that is, their opinions, personalities, ways of thinking) can be different. Variety is obviously part of God’s plan. If you don’t believe it, just look at the world He created. Therefore, difference of opinion within the body of Christ should be welcomed rather than smothered.
In fact, there are specific reasons for a variety to exist. In Genesis, we see a world that is dark, void and without form. Everything is the same. All is conformity. Yet God sees the need for diversity, for things to balance each other by their differences. In His unfathomable wisdom, God creates differences. Lightness and darkness. Land and water. Plants and air. Animals and humans. Clearly, life as God designed it is made up of opposing and differing forces.
Without variety there can be no balance. The very notion of achieving balance implies that you have opposing forces on the same see-saw. If you eliminate one force because you don’t agree with it, or because it acts or thinks or talks differently, you immediately have an imbalance.
Variety is what the real world is all about. Variety makes for complexities. Although some people would have us believe that life consists of black and white issues, problems and solutions, it is just not that way. Life consists of different shades of gray. So it is with Biblical principles. Only those principles stated by Jesus and recorded in His Holy Word can be said to be black and white issues. There is no room for compromise there. Everything else is gray, meaning that we have only rough guidelines. We can suggest certain interpretations and offer advice and insight, but we cannot dictate, mandate. legislate or insist on one and only one interpretation.
Consequently, we must respect each person’s own personal relationship with God and trust that God will speak to them also. This is very difficult to do, especially if one is a leader in charger of a flock. The temptation is to set himself up as a mouthpiece of God. He is under the illusion that unity will be achieved when one and only one voice is heard. He may see himself as the leader of a spiritual army where no one questions the general. He may believe that the battle call will be indistinct and nobody will be ready if more than one bugle is heard. He may feel that if something worked for him, then that same thing will work for his entire flock. Whatever his reason, he sets himself up as the authority to be submitted to.
When he does so, he violates his listener’s “personal spiritual space.” The listener will feel threatened. The listener instinctively knows when his territorial boundaries–that realm where he and the Lord have a very personal and unique relationship–have been violated.
There are two possible reactions at this point. One, the listener will ignore his gut-level feelings, repressing them in the name of “rebellion,” “flesh,” insubordination,” “lack of proper respect to authority,” or whatever. If this repression continues long enough, the listener will eventually yield his mind over to the leader and let him dictate his thoughts and behavior.
The other reaction is to escape from the control of “the voice.” This may consist of mentally turning off one’s attentiveness. More drastically, the person may feel compelled or obligated to leave.
This is why we have hundreds of denominations today. Each denomination is a pathetic monument of sorts to some person who believed he was right and everyone else was wrong. Someone set themselves up as the voice of God and tried to impose his knowledge onto his followers. Some submitted and thus the denomination was sustained. Others resisted, broke away and formed a new denomination.
There is a very real threat of this happening at the Door Fellowship. People feel as though their own “spiritual space” is being violated. They are being told to think and act in certain ways and to believe certain things. In essence, they are being told that their own intimate relationship with God–the gentle, still voice they’ve learned to listen to and obey–is no longer worth listening to. After all, there is only one way to think on any issue if you want to fellowship at the Door.
Naturally, the people are feeling threatened. It’s an uneasiness mixed with confusion. For they often hear one thing and see another thing. They hear, for example, how important it is for a husband and wife who are in disagreement to sit down and talk things out. Yet as body members of an ailing church they are being told not to talk about the very problem confronting them!
On the one hand we are told that we should love our brothers and sisters to the point of laying our lives down for their sake. On the other hand we’ve heard it said over and over again, “If you don’t agree, go somewhere else.”
We are told that there is real freedom in the Spirit at the Door Fellowship. Yet we see a real fear among the people to act differently or to rock the status quo. We’ve also seen what happens to those who do think differently.
We’ve heard it said laughingly that there is certainly no dictator in office. Yet we’ve seen those in positions of authority who disagree with the leadership being told to resign.
We’ve been taught from Matthew 18 that the good shepherd leaves all 99 of his sheep to search for the one sheep that is lost. But we don’t see that principle put into practice at the Door. Instead we see the reigns pulled in tighter around the 99 sheep. Speakers are brought in from outside to suggest that we not even associate with the sheep who have strayed. We don’t see any evidence of the shepherd trusting the 99 sheep enough to leave them alone so he can search.
Is there any uncertainty as to why confusion reigns? Or why the people who feel threatened are leaving?
The people who have questions, the people who feel threatened, the people who have been offended must be able to communicate with the church leadership. The freedom and the willingness to talk things out must be evident. Without communication there is darkness. Where darkness is, so is confusion.
At the present time, those who speak out do so at a very high risk. We have been told that it is wrong to talk about certain issues. We have been admonished to rebuke people who did speak out. We have seen prophecies squelched and persons screamed at because they tried to communicate. We have seen concerned members who wanted to talk but actually feared the consequences. So they held back and said nothing.
It is a repressive environment. There can be no walking in the Light when such conditions exist. Look at the example Jesus set. His disciples could ask him anything, without fear of disfellowship, being asked to resign or looked upon as unspiritual. In the same vein, Jesus communicated honestly and openly with his disciples. He was so frank he even told them he was going to be killed. Now that is what communication is all about–a free exchange of information, with the freedom to be yourself and to express your innermost thoughts and fears, without fear of punishment.
When a part of our physical body does not or cannot communicate with our brain, we call that area paralyzed and say the body is sick. All efforts are directed towards restoring the lines of communication which, interestingly enough, consists not only of information flowing from the brain to the affected area but also from the affected area to the brain. You see, health cannot exist without communication in both directions.
The lesson is obvious. The leadership at the Door Fellowship has to be willing to listen to the Body, just as the Body has to be willing to listen to the leadership. A healthy Body of Christ means that each member can be him/herself. When he is in pain he can speak out and be heard.
A spirit of cooperation has to be present, too. Each side must be willing to listen with open ears and an open heart. To do otherwise is to be hypocritical. You put on the appearance of wanting to communicate but inside you have a heart of stone.
Keeping these two concepts, unity and communication in mind, we now look at some specific problems at the Door Fellowship.
I had also attached a xeroxed article on unity with this preface: “This article, which was written by the editors of The Wittenburg Door, a christian magazine, led me to a better understanding of unity. Being a foundational truth, I feel we must come to grips with unity before we can discuss anything else.”
More articles were attached with this appendix note: “I include these two articles from Christianity Today. I am not suggesting that The Door Fellowship is a cult. However, one can conclude from these articles that The Door has several qualities of a cult, especially in the area of authority in leadership.”
One of the “famous” personalities to be kicked out was Dennis Cramer, now a well-known prophet in the Elijah list circles. HIs book “Charismatic Curses” (re-published as “Breaking Charismatic Curses”) details his bad experiences at the Door although he doesn’t mention them by name. He had been an elder at the Door.
Ted Hayes, another Door elder whose loyal friends had stood up for him at his denunciation and paid the price by subsequently being dragged out, had been a key figure in organizing the first Jesus Music festival in 1973. Shortly after his formal “disfellowshipping,” he moved to CA where he became a prominent conservative community organizer in LA. An interview I did with Ted in 1984 is posted here.
The Door is alive and well. Wayne and his wife are still involved, although their three sons Mark and Matt and Mike have assumed key positions in worship, youth and preaching.
I was still around when they bought and remodeled the old Rialto Theater, the church’s current home. I’ll never forget standing knee-deep in asbestos fibers as a dozen of us volunteers tore apart the old furnace in the basement. All we had for protection were cheap rubber-banded paper masks that hardly covered our mouth and nose. Someone prayed for protection from the deadly carcinogen in Jesus’ name.
Why did we do it? We were expected to help. It became a project for the home groups. I sold my high school class ring for its gold and gave the money to the church during one of their many high-pressure fund-raising campaigns. (“God’s telling me that five people are going to give $1000 tonight.”)
I saved some notes I’d taken from a meeting I had with Wayne shortly before the hammer came down on me. “Wayne says he wasted his time talking to me.” “Wayne feels that what I’m doing is sin. Not learning the principle of commitment.” “The paper is an indirect way of trying to correct.” “The sin of division, contention and confusion.” “I’m not bringing unity, edification to the church. It is Satanic.” “I spend quite a lot of time with the girls. I haven’t shared the article with the brothers.”
“Co-pastors” Margret and Wayne Holcomb of the
Door Fellowship in Williamsport, PA. They actively promoted the flawed “disfellowship” policy.
Elder Dave Bachman was “disfellowshipped” a year after this picture was taken. One day he scribbled a note and handed it to me. It read, “Harmony is the product of differences, not similarities.”
In June 1982 about half of the ~50 “dissidents” attended a picnic at Northway Park. Some of these “shunned” folks never set foot inside a church again.
Left to right: Steve Ream, Jim Hepler, Jim Hayner, Wes Young.
Wes Young, on left side of table, had a son who later died of leukemia. Some at The Door said it was because they had left.
Dennis Cramer (on right, with hat) and his wife Dianne (looking away from camera), Kathy Ergot (at end of table), Gail Mosteller (center right) and son Brian (tinted glasses).
Dianne Cramer (left).
Karen Derby (blond, center) did a sit-down protest on stage during a Sunday meeting!
Background: The term “script” is very meaningful to me because I’m a videographer. Whenever I’m hired to do a project, a script has to be written first. It is always the toughest part of the job. The shots, called a storyboard, are listed in one column and the accompanying narration is written in another column.
From the completed script then flows the “virtual reality” called a film.
Each of us has a detailed script called the Book of (Our) Life. It was written in advance of our being born. Psalm 139:16 says “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” “The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” (Revelation 20:12)
This fractal “flow chart” represents the decisions, conscious and unconscious, I must make in the next five minutes.
I call them “crossroad decisions,” because I truly arrive at a Y-junction. We have to decide, often instantly but occasionally with time to reflect, whether we’re going to say “no” to our flesh and follow God or whether we’re going to take the easy road downhill and follow our flesh. It’s a God vs. Satan choice whether we want to admit it or not.
God wants to get us from Point A to Point B using the most direct route. He wants us to become mature, to grow up fast. Choosing God at crossroads obviously makes that happen. Paul makes this point in 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 when he says we’re “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus...always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake.”
How do we make the right choice? Where do we find the strength to make a difficult decision?
Simple: we remember what happened on the Cross.
Jesus paid the price for each fleshly choice we make (or made). His heavenly transaction not only covers the penalty of having sinned in the past (if we chose that downward route) but it also provides a way out, an upward victory, the strength to overcome that very sin before it has happened!
Otherwise we’re left to our own self-righteous devices, which means gritting our teeth in our flesh, trying to do the right thing. Or making excuses for why we don’t.
If we take time to remember the Cross, amazing things will start to happen.
Comments: This describes our personal script in the broadest sense. It is possible to know some of it from God’s point of view (that is, eliminating the branches and seeing only the single upward path). The Holy Spirit enables a sneak peak of short segments when people are given a Word of Knowledge or a Word of Prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:29-33 and 1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
Sometimes the decision is very difficult. It’s not a simple “right vs. wrong” based on our general knowledge of God’s Word. It might require a fine distinction between “good vs. best.” Searching out an answer, nevertheless, keeps our feet on a path–the way–always sniffing for God’s scent. David made a “good” choice by taking refuge in the walled town of Keilah. But the “best” choice was to vacate and keep on the run. 1 Samuel 23:7-13 is a fascinating look at God’s ways when the Holy Spirit is not very talkative.
Remembering the Cross is an art, a skill that can be cultivated. At first, there’s an intellectual, academic feel to it. But with practice, a significant “something” blooms and becomes meaningful to you. When I walk my neighbor’s dog there are times when I know Sophie would rather follow her basic instincts rather than what I want. As she struggles to overcome that Y-junction, she...yawns vigorously, then follows me. If only we could learn how to “yawn” spiritually!
According to Psalm 139:24 we’re to pray, “lead me in the ancient way.” I believe that ancient way is the scripture we teamed up with God to write before the beginning of time. Just a few verses earlier, verse 13, we admitted to God: “you formed my inward parts.” Our inward parts include our soul, which is our “software.” Not only broad generalities like personality traits but specific, moment by moment programming we chose at the onset.
Our “paths” were marked out in advance. Note verse 3 of Psalm 139: “you search out my path.” He’s ahead of us, lighting the way, but our ego causes us to believe we’re choosing it all by ourselves.
The quantum secret
Story: Going where angels fear to tread, I’m convinced that quantum physics is God’s last stand. And his first stand. It’s no mystery that God is light. Man, created in His image, was also light at the beginning.
The Fall was more catastrophic than we can imagine. How can a massless being of light comprehend what it means to become localized, to have weight, to be grounded? Yet that’s precisely what happened. God severed ties by pronouncing curses on the serpent, then Eve, then Adam and finally, the world. All of that is recorded in Genesis 3. The really bad news–changing from a light wave into a grounded particle–wasn’t revealed until much later.
But God has a sense of humor. We think of God as being “really big.” Who would ever guess he’s also “really small?” In fact, that’s how he’s retained ownership and planted his flag. At the atomic and sub-atomic level where particles appear and disappear, first here and then instantly, a million miles there...like it or not, that’s God’s territory!
Here’s a list, in no particular order, of some of the weird aspects of quantum physics. I should say, of God’s character.
1–Particles making up atoms can either be particles or waves. Particles have weight, waves don’t.
2–Atomic particles can be everywhere at once. This is called non-locality.
3–Particles entangle with each other. This connection, under post-Fall conditions, is tenuous and falls apart (decoheres)as distance increases between the two.
4–Our world is digital, not analog. All changes occur in distinct steps, not sliding from one state to another. The simplest digital representation is a “zero” state (off) and a “one” state (on).
5–Depending on who you prefer, Niels Bohr or Hugh Everett, our thoughts either affect subatomic particles or they don’t. If it’s the latter, parallel universes are created every second.
6–Time is like a bus that speeds up or slows down. It’s all “relative,” as they say, meaning your point of view.
7–The energy contained in purely “empty space” is mind-blowing.
8–Particles confronted with impossibly thick walls can simply tunnel through.
9–Atoms are mostly empty space. Since we’re composed of atoms, what we are is...mostly empty space.
10–What we see around us may be a holographic projection, only a shadow on the wall.
11–There are 4 dimensions (length, width, height and time) in our world. String theory says more than 10 exist.
Bible pages are dripping with quantum phenomena.
Thanks to the great people around here and those who came from afar in the face of the impending snowstorm, the premiere showing at the Canton Rialto was a sellout, standing room only, and many people had to be turned away. We quickly arranged a second showing at 9 pm for those who could make it, and due to popular demand we will have a showing again on Thursday, January 28th at 6:30.
Thanks for the great support and we hope to see you there!
Thursday, January 21st at 6:30 pm, please join us for our latest documentary world premiere!
The Canton Rialto Theatre, Canton, PA. Tickets $5.00.
Background: I’m a visual guy. My chances of remembering increase slightly when there’s a drawing involved. What I’ve mapped out here is God’s plan from the beginning before time to the end of time. Right now, we’re locked in the “B” world, the one which Paul implores us to “wake up from your drunken stupor...” (I Corinthians 15:34)
Comments: Genesis 1:2 is typically translated “Now the earth was formless and empty...” but it can also be translated “Now the earth became formless and empty...” Since God often does things in triple sets, having an “A, B and C” world makes sense, each with its own set of natural laws. The “C” world, for example, won’t have a sun or any sea. Gold is transparent. The curse has been removed. (Revelation 21, 22) There will be no death, no decay. Blood won’t be needed anymore. Everything is light.
Nobody knows for sure when Satan was cast down to earth except Jesus, who admits in Luke 10:18 “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” The “A” world seems a likely time for Satan’s plunge. After all, Genesis 1:2 says “darkness was [my note: already] over the surface of the deep...” Revelation 12:7-9 describes the war in heaven while Isaiah 14 describes the pride that led to his downfall. That pride then infected us all once Satan tempted Eve with the killer hook “you will be like God.” (Genesis 3:5)
The “A” world may have been similar to Eden pre-fall. Psalm 104:2 says God “wraps himself in light as with a garment.” Adam and Eve, as God’s image, were beings of light too. When Satan was conducting interviews for each person’s script, Ezekiel 28:14 says Satan “walked among the fiery stones.” That’s us! Our speech was a digital sort of communication– without interference, perfectly transmitted. Looking to the future (and the past, as the clothesline theory indicates) Zephaniah 3:9 says, “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech.”
Here’s an outrageous proposal. What if there had been a “chosen nation” in the “A” world called the US? Could that be why the bible makes no mention of the US in bible prophecy in the “B” world and why Israel now occupies chosen nation status?
The “B” world is made up of atoms whose substance blinks in and out of existence. First they’re a visible particle, then they’re an invisible wave. The world’s building blocks are mostly empty space. (An atom’s spaciousness is equal to a golfball inside a football stadium.) Solomon, the smartest man the world has ever seen, said it best in Ecclesiastes 1:2, “Emptiness, emptiness...all is empty.” The “B” world seems solid because our senses are blunted. We’re blind to the very small and the very large. It’s as if the world were made of swiss cheese and we’ve got thick mittens on our hands. We try in vain to feel for the holes.
The “B” world’s life source is found in blood. Blood that cries out from the ground. Blood that is supposed to be sacrificially shed by animals without defect and ultimately, by one human without defect–Jesus. Leviticus 17:11 says “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar.” The biological information driving this tremendous life is encoded in DNA. The cosmic information driving everything is encoded in the Word.
It’s all about Israel. Jesus was, is and forever will be Jewish. Gentiles, slow to recognize their Jewish roots, are included only by the grace of God.
My attitude toward communion has gone through several phases over the years. I suppose we all start out clueless, grasping the cup and wafer as part of an empty ritual.
It was Gene Scott who connected dots for me between Isaiah 53 and 1st Corinthians 11. “With his stripes we are healed” describes what happened at the Cross. That healing is now a done deal (past tense!) as Peter confidently says in 1 Peter 2:24 “...you have been healed.” It’s in the script.
So now when I take the bread, I can claim the promise of healing.
Gene felt so strongly about this teaching, he offered communion no less than four times a day on his satellite network.
Armed with fresh insight, I take another look at Paul’s 1st Corinthians 11 teaching in the light of the Cross.
Jesus chose the breaking of bread to represent his dying on the Cross. Is there anything more common, routine and necessary than eating? We’re to remember the Cross as often as we eat. This drill could become automatic at every cross-road we encounter:
A.Jesus died for that particular sin that hangs in the balance in the valley of decision
B. I was united with Jesus on the Cross for that particular sin
C. Therefore I died to that sin looming in front of me
D.Jesus overcame that sin through death, burial and resurrection and through entanglement.
E. I overcame that sin through death, burial and resurrection, clinging to Jesus all the while
The multi-step A=B=C=D=E process doesn’t lend itself to an easy formula. So lazy brains that we are, we will try to dumb it down. If we’re not carefull, we’ll soon have another ritual on our hands.
Note that we risk our health and our very life if we trivialize the Cross. Paul warns, “that is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” The key is properly “discerning the body.” We need to know what really happened to Jesus on the Cross.
Gene Scott stressed this discernment process Paul speaks of in verse 27. “Whoever therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner...” That doesn’t mean we should fret about whether we’ve sinned or whether we’re good enough to partake. No, it means contemplating and pondering Steps A through E, concluding that Jesus has done it all for us. It’s his righteousness that clothes us, not our own “good works” we pass off as righteous.
The same holds for the cup which represents the shed blood of Jesus.
So we’re to remember daily. Many times a day we’re to “proclaim the Lord’s death.”
It’s at the Cross we get the grace, we get the power to choose a godly over a fleshly path. Peter nails this point in 1st Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”
The first time I unveiled this concept, I was on a Christian-centered internet dating site. One woman’s profile had caught my eye because she was a musician, artsy and local. But her profile didn’t mention God. So I sent her an email explaining what my vision of heaven was like, pretty much the story you’re about to read. Within 24 hours she had disappeared. Terminated her membership. Gone!
Anyway, for the past year I’d been thinking about the Cross and what might have happened there. One day I read Del Washburn’s take on Revelation 13:8, speaking of “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” His ideas lit a fire in my head. “What?” I thought, “Jesus was crucified in the beginning?”
Are you ready?
Scene 1: Heaven. Time hasn’t begun yet.
Every soul that will ever exist is sitting around, doing what souls do, praising God. They look like “orbs” of light. No flesh and bone yet.
Satan, God’s right-hand man, has been given the task of transcribing in minute detail God’s plan for each soul’s earth life. In other words, our “book of life” is being assembled letter by letter, line by line, moment by moment from start to finish.
It’s Satan’s job to lay out options at each “cross road” in our upcoming “free willed” life. One fork is God’s fast track where we do His will, the right thing. The other choice is to sin and follow our flesh.
Of course we don’t know what sin is yet. But it sounds like fun as Satan describes it to us. It has a certain appeal.
So Satan dutifully writes down our choices. At 4:05:23 on January 23, 2019 we will choose to sin by doing _____. At 4:08:20 on the same day we will choose to sin by saying ______. And so on and on and on.
After what is truly an eternity our book of life has been constructed. Before Satan leaves to go to the next soul-orb, he says “God wants me to tell you that all those sins you chose to do...there are terrible consequences. Come over here and see.”
Instantly we’re in the middle of heaven where the Cross is. Jesus, part of God, is hanging there. As Satan reads off each sin, we see Jesus writhe in indescribable agony. We see him die by separating from his Father. In fact, we are no longer spectators as we die with him. We accompany Jesus as he descends into Hades. We follow in his train as he then ascends back to heaven.
For each and every of our millions of sins we watch, we die, we descend, we ascend. Incredibly, we are entangled with Jesus face to face on the Cross. There is no separation. He dies, we die. He was ultimately victorious over that sin, we were virtually victorious over that sin.
After more eternity, our time line with its “cross road” moments of either overcoming or succumbing are written.
Satan asks us, “Now that you’ve seen the consequences of sin #_____, are you sure you want to keep that sin #_____ in your book?” We say, “Yes, I’m sure.”
So it was for each and every sin.
After processing 18 billion orbs, Satan becomes so familiar, so casual with sin and Jesus’ reaction that he decides to explore some loopholes. Simultaneously Earth materialized and Satan’s darkness was drawn to it, along with his rebellious followers. A whole new battlefield has been established.
Later on in eternity all of us orbs were looking down upon the earth God had created. Someone said, “There’s the Garden of Eden.” Some other orb cried out, “There’s God’s created humans, Adam and Eve.” A hush, odd for heaven, came over all of us orbs as one said, “There is Satan!”
His temptation led to the Fall.
God pronounced the Curse.
At that instant our orb memory was wiped out. We couldn’t remember heaven...or the Cross...or choosing all of our sins. The next thing we knew, we were being born in flesh and blood bodies.
Our timeline was now unfolding rapidly, “choosing” to sin at “cross road” #1, #2...#45,009...#1,056,745. At a pre-ordained age and time we, you “chose” to follow Jesus. Now we have the power to overcome at those “cross road” junctions.
Now can you understand why the internet lady fled from me?
What’s fascinating about this scenario is its simple explanation for what we call “free will” here on earth.
It also explains how we could be crucified (past tense!) with Christ as the first 8 verses of Romans 6 says. Just so we’ll get it, God creates the Cross experience three times. First, in heaven, before the Fall. Next, during the darkness at the Cross in 32 AD. Finally, on a presumably daily basis here and now.
This gives some insight into the occupational hazards of Satan’s profession. It unfortunately planted a seed which led to his being kicked out.
Here are scriptures to connect some of these dots:
Perhaps Jesus was presented as Savior to everyone–all orb souls–in heaven before time began as 1 Timothy 4:10 and Hebrews 7:27 suggests. But not all orb souls perceive him as Lord during the darkness of the Cross in 32 AD as Hebrews 9:28 says.