JESUS IS NOT A RELIGION

PART I

Whence Cornelius? The Intersection of God and Jesus

“There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a Centurion in what was called the Italian Regiment. He was a devout man and feared God, along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God.” (Acts 10: 1-2, Holman Christian Standard Bible)

What do we know and what can we can infer from the above verses?

1. Cornelius was a Roman soldier and most likely a Gentile.

2. He was devout (having deep religious feeling and/or commitment).

3. He feared God (speaks for itself).

4. He put his devoutness into action by performing acts of charity for downtrodden Jews in his community.

5. He prayed to God.

Since Cornelius was not a Jew, what God was he praying to? The following verse might answer that question: “About three in the afternoon, He (Cornelius) distinctly saw in a vision an Angel of God who came in and said to him ‘Cornelius!’.” (Acts 10:3 HCSB)

I’m guessing Cornelius had been praying to the God of Israel, and despite all the inherent barriers, had made a direct connection.

As it turns out, the Apostle Peter experienced a vision also. The result of that vision: “What God has made clean, you must not call common (unclean).” (Acts 10:15 HCSB)

So, Peter went to see Cornelius along with a gathering of Cornelius’ friends and relatives. Peter said to them, “Now I really understand that God doesn’t show favoritism but in every nation the person who fears him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him.” (Acts 10:34-35 HCSB)

Here we have expressed in very simple terms the two pre-conditions for finding recognition and acceptance by God:

1. Fear God: a corollary would be not to practice idolatry, which was the dominant religious practice in the ancient world. Fearing God would mean not accepting or acknowledging any competitors.

2. Do Righteousness: Besides practicing good deeds, it would also mean avoiding immorality.

Peter continued, speaking of Jesus, “… yes, they killed Him by hanging Him on a tree. God raised up this man on the third day… that He is appointed by God to be the judge of the living and the dead… that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 10:39-43 HCSB)

The people who were listening to Peter were obviously ready for his message because the next thing that happens is the Holy Spirit descending on the group.

This is an interesting turn of events. The people were devout (or at least we assumed they were; devout meaning fearing God and doing righteousness) before they believed in Jesus. Now devoutness does not equate to absence of sin. If anything, it probably makes you more aware of the sin in your life. Hence the need or desire to ask for forgiveness.

Even Peter was astounded that the Holy Spirit had been poured out on uncircumcised Gentiles. “Can anyone withhold water and prevent these people from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 10:47-48 HCSB)

What can we conjecture from this episode? It’s possible to be devout as a Gentile. A relationship with God is possible by fearing Him (not practicing idolatry) and by doing righteousness (avoiding immorality). Those would seem to be the only pre- or post-conditions to believing in Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit. But repentance is necessary for salvation.

How did Cornelius and the gentiles in his circle find God? To answer that, let’s go to chapter 17 of Acts where the Apostle Paul says, “… The God who made the world and everything in it – He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands… from one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth… He did this, so they might seek God and perhaps they might reach out and find Him…” (Acts 17:24-27 HCSB)

No matter where you are it’s possible to find God; but the prerequisite is that you must first seek Him. Anyone, anywhere can find God. Anyone, anywhere can lead a devout life, free of idolatry and immorality. The preceding idea points toward a universal aspect of a possible relationship while living on Earth. It’s a worthy life for anyone to lead.

This aspect of God is hardest for people to understand. They think of God as an actual person, an authority figure who passes judgment on all our activities. But that’s not what it’s talking about. It’s talking about a God who’s non-material. This God is not a person or personality. In this case, think of God as idea or concept. This idea or concept says that humans should not worship imaginary superior beings, other humans (dead or living), animals, or inanimate objects. Human should worship the invisible God.

One man has risen (both metaphorically and literally) above the human condition. This would-be Jesus. Whereas we humans seek God via the road of devoutness, Jesus has transcended the journey. Via the vehicle of resurrection after death, he has created the possibility of life after death for all of us.

JESUS IS NOT A RELIGION

PART II

When did God take the Form of God

The following is written in the spirit of speculation.

If we assume that God in His original and enduring state is one of non-materiality, essentially in essence only mind, then it makes sense that when interacting with humanity (and other beings such as angels for that matter) God would take on material form. It also makes sense that this form would be human in appearance. Here’s an example: In Genesis three angels (or messengers) are spending time with Abraham. One of the three was designated as God (or Lord).

“Then the LORD appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting in the entrance of his tent during the heat of the day. He looked up, and he saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them and bowed to the ground. Then he said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, please do not go on past your servant. Let a little water be brought, that you may wash your feet and rest yourselves under the tree. I will bring a bit of bread so that you may strengthen yourselves. This is why you have passed your servant’s way. Later, you can continue on.”

“Yes,” they replied, “do as you have said.”

“So Abraham hurried into the tent and said to Sarah, “Quick! Knead three measures of fine flour and make bread.” Meanwhile, Abraham ran to the herd and got a tender, choice calf. He gave it to a young man, who hurried to prepare it. Then Abraham took curds and milk, and the calf that he had prepared, and set them before the men. He served them as they ate under the tree.

“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.

“There, in the tent,” he answered.

“The LORD said, “I will certainly come back to you in about a year’s time, and your wife Sarah will have a son!” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent behind him.

“ Abraham and Sarah were old and getting on in years. Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. So she laughed to herself: “After I have become shriveled up and my lord is old, will I have delight?”

“ But the LORD asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Can I really have a baby when I’m old?’ Is anything impossible for the LORD? At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son.” (Genesis 18: 1-14 HCSB)

Here’s an interesting passage in Galatians:

“I beg you, brothers: Become like me, for I also became like you. You have not wronged me; you know that previously I preached the gospel to you because of a physical illness. You did not despise or reject me though my physical condition was a trial for you. On the contrary, you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself.” (Galatians 4:12-14 HCSB)

Let’s do a thought experiment. Over time as God developed a relationship with humanity, He utilized his cadre of messengers in making contact. It was a form of a test or apprenticeship. He was gauging which messenger was best at relating and conveying His essence.

If God can assume the form of an earthly human being (Re: Jesus), why He couldn’t also assume the form of a celestial messenger? And not just one, but many with varying results? (Stratification of messengers into two camps (good and evil) probably began long before Garden of Eden. See last few chapters in the Book of Daniel.)

I’m suggesting that God moved from a series of temporary theophanies to a permanent theophany. A passageway as it were that was a conduit to humanity.

JESUS IS NOT A RELIGION

PART III

While Jesus is not a Religion, He is a Kingdom

Throughout the centuries Jesus has a been a King of an invisible kingdom. His subjects have exhibited the characteristics of the subjects of visible kingdoms. Some have been loyal, and some have been less so.

The only belief that is necessary to be part of the Kingdom is to believe that Jesus came back to life after dying on the cross (all other subjects open to discussion).

“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, ‘There is no resurrection of the dead’? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith (note: may want to explore what is meant by ‘your faith’). In addition we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that he raised up Christ – Whom he did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. And if Christ has not been raised up, your faith is worthless, you are still in your sins.” (I Corinthians 15:12-17 HCSB)

The only miracle that really matters is that God raised up Jesus from the dead.

While God and Jesus have the same essence (nature), they are not identical. God is all essence while Jesus is both essence and individual personality (both human and divine).

Jesus is now the permanent residence of God’s essence whereas as before: “Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through him The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. So He became higher in rank than the angels, just as the name He inherited is superior to the angels.” (Hebrews 1: 1-4 HCSB)

This is how Jesus is a mediator between God and mankind. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, Christ Jesu, Himself human, who gave Himself – a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time.” (I Timothy 2: 5-6 HCSB)

How is a kingdom set up?

1. Administration

2. Subjects

3. Rewards, Penalties (Lake of Fire)

Examples of Workers in the Kingdom

- Do not seek credit or recognition

- Exhibit skills & abilities necessary to successfully carry out assignments

- Find their reward is in a job well done

END NOTES

If Jesus has the essence of God, then Jesus has always existed

The Spirit is not what one is made of but what one does – the key is consciousness/intelligence

John 6:14-15 – refused to be an earthly king.

The Kingdom is a condition not a place.

When did the Resurrection begin? It began with Jesus.

Jesus rising from the dead (victory over death) proved His earthly life was deemed sinless and thereby worthy of life after death. A case of ipso facto.

Here is the universal spirit: “One God and Father of all, Who is above all and through all, and in all.” (Ephesians 4:6. Hint: it’s there whether you know it or not.)

What is universally true, by definition, belongs to all people everywhere.

God and Jesus are of the same essence (the basic, real and invariable nature of a thing or its significant individual feature or features). According to this definition, God would be the thing and Jesus the individual. God and Jesus have the same knowledge, but Jesus has it in the form of memory.

An Angel of the Lord assumed God’s Essence. Jesus incorporated it.

Assume = pretend; incorporate = embody.

Is God His essence? (good question). God must be non-material. For clarification, a spirit being is material.

If knowledge as memory was transmitted to Jesus (making Him the Son of God), then that acquisition would mean that the knowledge as memory was always meant (destined?) for the recipient.

Include John 1 on the word Logos. The Word (Logos) and Jesus always the same? Or did they become the same?

The Holy Spirit is not about the future. It’s about infusing the present with knowledge from the past.

“He (Jesus) is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25 HCSB)

Jesus saves us. The Spirit enriches us.

“Message of the Lord” – universal- can culturally remain, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, etc.

God did not exist as individual being before Jesus? Worked through intermediaries (angels).

God as Father is a spiritual concept (useful). The Father is not an actual being.

The Father is transcendent, the Son is immanent.

God is now able to connect to humanity via Jesus (formerly via Angles) for the purpose of individual human salvation – God as Father non-material.

THE END