My interview with Paul Van Sickle (Kansas City) posted. Click here, go to "Interviews" and you will see the "JG Lenhart" link.
During the interview, I touched on the subject of "Life". I want to use this entry to go more in-depth on this topic. Also, I have completed a rough first draft of my next book and one of the concepts in the next book is helping people in this area. So, I'm also going to use this entry to set up the explanation of "How to Be Excellent".
Last July, I went to the International Christian Retailer's Convention to promote the book "Modeling God". During that time, I ran into a lot of influential "Christians" and got some telling answers to important questions. One of my favorites was: "What is your definition of 'LIFE'?"
I either got a shrug or the answer "existence".
First of all, the shrug is intriguing. Why do people use a word if they don't know what they mean by it? Isn't THAT cult behavior? Again, I'm amazed at the number of people who base their beliefs on concepts they can't define...
When I got the shrug, I would suggest "existence".
Then I would ask people if those who go to hell will exist for eternity.
The answer is "yes"...Revelation 20:15 says, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." The last verse of Isaiah (66:24) says, "And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."
Then I would ask, "If these people 'exist' for eternity...do they have eternal life?"
Almost always, I would get an immediate "yes".
Then I'd say, "Jesus said these people wouldn't get eternal life." (We also saw above that it says this in Revelation and actually calls the book that determines eternal life, "The Book of Life"!)
It is at this point that you see what is in the hearts of these individuals...
There are some religions who teach that people in hell will cease to exist. This is an attempt to remove this contradiction. (Notice also, that at the end of the Bible, people don't go to hell...they go to the lake of fire. In fact, it says hell is cast into the lake of fire.)
Obviously, the definition of "life" is not "existence" in these verses.
What is the non-contradictory definition of "life"?
What are the implications of this non-contradictory definition on our daily lives?
The importance of finding a non-contradictory definition is that it is PROOF it is the right definition! We are all in search of the right answers (if not, then why do we argue so much?) and yet we don't seem to know how to DETERMINE when we truly reach the right answer. Non-contradiction PROVES the definition is right.
The main CAUSE of people being wrong with their definitions is that they focus more on the source rather than the merit of the answer. So, the method of determining a non-contradictory definition is to select a definition and actively try to prove it wrong.
I happen to look to the Bible first for the definition. Why? Because experience has shown that when the Bible does define a word it is non-contradictory. Also, the Bible tends to give an explanation when it does define a word. "Faith" is the best example of this.
When the Bible doesn't give an explicit definition, I look to Strong's Concordance (King James Bible) for the definition. Why? Because this gives the meaning for the Hebrew or Greek word that was used in the original writings. "Grace" is the best example of this.
When Strong's Concordance gives an abstract definition, I look to "experts". Why? Because the process says I need to start somewhere and looking to past experts saves time. This is what I did with "life".
My favorite source is CS Lewis. I have written this before: "Mere Christianity" is my favorite book on theology. Lewis wrote about some concepts that are still ahead of us today. I'm saddened at the number of people who are Lewis fans yet have NO IDEA what he wrote. "Life" is a perfect example...
CS Lewis wrote that the difference between a live body and a dead body is that a live body can, when it is damaged, repair itself to some extent. Notice, the live body DOES get damaged. We would never think that a live body NEVER gets damaged.
If we take the definition of "life" as "the ability to repair", scripture opens up into deeper dimensions. In fact, using this definition shows a Three Dimensional view of Life...where MOST people only have a One Dimensional view of life.
ONE DIMENSIONAL VIEW
Most people define "life" as existence. So it is a binary concept...either you are alive or you are not. This is a One Dimensional view of life. Does it make sense to have MORE and LESS life with this view? How do you have MORE existence? How do you have LESS existence?
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10)
It appears that Jesus is saying that "life" is DEFINITELY NOT One Dimensional. At the very least, this passage says "life" is a Two Dimensional concept.
TWO DIMENSIONAL VIEW
A person with a Two Dimensional view would agree some bodies have MORE life (ability to repair) than others. However, this applies ONLY to a physical realm. Is it possible that "Life" applies to more than the physical?
"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63)
The words are "Life" AND they are spirit. This is a Three Dimensional view of "Life".
THREE DIMENSIONAL VIEW
A person with a Three Dimensional view would realize that life is the ability to repair physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.
Now look at the passage from John 10...Jesus came that we would have the ability to repair AND grow in the ability to repair physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually!
Also, in John 14:6 Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
This sounds like Jesus is the ULTIMATE ability to repair. How is this possible in a non-contradictory manner?
Leviticus 17:11 says: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood."
Think about your body, your ability to repair is in your blood. So here is another scripture that looks different when we understand "life". Let's go one more step...
The ULTIMATE life (ability to repair) would be in the ULTIMATE Blood.
The ULTIMATE Blood belongs to Jesus!
Jesus gives us the ULTIMATE ability to repair through His Blood!
When I explained this over a year ago on a Worldview Weekend posting, the followers of Ken Silva went crazy! They couldn't go out of each other's way to tell me I was in a cult, deluded, preaching the devil, and in need of constant prayer. The post seemed to set some sort of record for number of responses. When I explained this was CS Lewis' definition, the comments slowed down for a few days...and then they announced they needed to ban any more comments to that post.
No one admitted they got carried away.
The goal for these "Christians" appears to be DON'T BE WRONG...BE PERFECT
Jesus didn't come so that we would be perfect...He knows we aren't and our trying to never make a mistake is going to wear us out.
Jesus realized we are going to make mistakes.
Jesus said we are going to experience damage.
Jesus came that we would be able to repair AND repair MORE abundantly.
Our measure IS perfection and lack of mistake...just like the Pharisees
Jesus says our measure OUGHT to be the ability to repair.
This COMPLETELY changes how we view the world and each other!
IF the goal was "perfection", what is the non-contradictory definition of "perfect"?
"The young man said unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." (Matthew 19:20-21)
IF "perfection" is the SAME for EVERYONE, then ALL of us should sell all that we have and give to the poor in order to be "perfect"! WHY DON'T WE DO THIS?
BECAUSE "perfection" is different for each of us. It has to do with "uniqueness". Uniqueness is the tenth chapter in "Modeling God". You can get a flavor for it here.
Uniqueness summary: Profitability is the key to salvation. Profitability occurs when individuals exchange value according to their uniqueness. The way to kill profitability is to:
1. Deny exchanges
2. Deny your uniqueness (try to value things the same as others do)
3. Deny the uniqueness of others (tell people they are bad for being different)
We shouldn't value uniqueness (diversity) because not doing so is wrong.
We shouldn't value people IN SPITE of their uniqueness (diversity).
We NEED to value people BECAUSE of their uniqueness...you can't be profitable in the Long Term with uniqueness.
Since perfection is different for you than for me, the non-contradictory definition MUST deal with profitability.
"Perfect" is "attaining the maximum possible profitability".
Look at all the scriptures with "perfect" and substitute this definition. I can show you OBJECTIVELY that Jesus was PERFECT in EVERYTHING He did. There was NO WAY to get more value out of a situation than the way He handled it. For instance, there is NO WAY to get more value through prayer than "The Lord's Prayer". (We'll cover this another time).
In this instance, Jesus tells the young man the way for him to achieve maximum profitability. In fact, there is a twist in these verses that occurs in ALL three accounts of this story.
For the past ten years, I have asked this question of over 100 pastors, theologians, believers, and teachers. Only three people have ever gotten right. You've just read the passage, but let's see if you can answer this question correctly:
Complete the sentence...
Jesus told the young man to sell all that he has, give it to the poor, and then...what?
While you are thinking about that, let's get back to how this relates to "life"...
If "perfection" is our goal, we are ALWAYS going to be disappointed. We RARELY achieve perfection. Why make a goal that is out of your reach and impossible to attain consistently?
However, if we make "life" our goal, this is something we are going to be able to do AND it is something that is valuable!
What value is it to you if I'm able to be "perfect"?
This is NO VALUE to you AND may end up annoying you.
However, what value is it to you if I'm able to repair?
There isn't a greater value I could give to you!
People who focus on perfection and judge us according to perfection are focused on appearance. There are NO scriptures in the Bible saying we should value appearance...no matter how much people try to rationalize it!
IN FACT, Jesus said to take no thought about what clothes you wear!
Now, back to our question...
Jesus told the young man to sell all that he has, give it to the poor, and then...what?
Most people complete the sentence with "follow me". That is wrong! I have seen numerous TV preachers quote this verse incorrectly. I've even seen it displayed on the screen incorrectly!
Jesus said, "...and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."
Jesus NEVER asked for something WITHOUT giving something MORE in return. This verse says for the young man to sell all that he has and give it to the poor SO HE WILL HAVE TREASURE IN HEAVEN...THEN follow Jesus!
So the young man would turn ALL his valuables into treasure in heaven AND he would add to his treasure by following Jesus. There is NO WAY for the young man to have been MORE profitable AT THAT TIME AND PLACE WITH HIS UNIQUENESS than to do what Jesus told him to do.
What is the MOST profitable thing you can do with your time, money, and connections?
Learning how to repair and teaching others OUGHT to be high on your list...
So, how would this change from perfection to life affect our everyday lives?
Who would you rather have as a pastor?
1. A person who appears never to have made a mistake.
2. A person who appears to always be making mistakes.
3. A person who has made mistakes and repaired them.
Unfortunately, most people ACTUALLY act as if #1 is their answer...AND most pastors ACT as if #1 is the answer.
The pastor may even SAY they make mistakes, but they won't share them. Why? Because they are afraid people can't look past the mistakes...the pastor will say he is doing it for the benefit of the church member.
Did you notice that we've now brought APPEARANCE into the equation?
I couldn't give an option that said: A person who has never made a mistake.
First of all, that would mean I was talking about Jesus...and we ALL would choose Him (hopefully).
Second of all, that would imply there ACTUALLY is someone other than Jesus who never makes a mistake!
If I had put this as an option, hopefully you wouldn't have chosen it because you would say, "I don't want to follow a hypocrite. I know everyone makes mistakes, so to think that a pastor doesn't make mistakes is to be going by appearance ONLY...which is completely unbiblical".
We can look at it another way: Which marriage is EXCELLENT?
1. The marriage that never has a problem.
2. The marriage that is able to repair its problems.
Which one do we ACTUALLY think is EXCELLENT?
Which one do we WORK to represent to others?
MOST TELLING: Which marriage is the objective for most people?
MOST TELLING: Which pastor should we be following?
Our objective shouldn't be the marriage that never has a problem...that is a fantasy.
Our objective should be the marriage that repairs its problems.
We should be following pastors that know how to repair...not the ones who WORK on APPEARING problem-free.
What do we think of pastors who promise us a problem-free existence?
Not all problems are sin.
Notice, it is possible for the person to have problems that aren't a result of sin AND still be "perfect" because it results in the maximum profitability through justice.
Perfect doesn't mean free of problems...that would be contradictory to the scriptures.
If "Life" is the ability to repair, then "death" is the inability to repair.
That would make Eternal Death, the inability to EVER repair...and existence that is constantly running down and decaying.
Remember, Eternal Life implies the existence will improve and GROW.
Growth ALWAYS involves breaking down something in the short term in order to increase in the Long Term.
The biggest area for growth is our thought processes...
When we learn more it ALWAYS involves reconnecting a piece of information we had that was wrongly connected or unconnected. Both of these instances are "repair" because the information was made to be connected.
In fact, the BIGGEST source of repair and creation is with our thoughts and words.
People in heaven are going to be able to create and repair through thinking and sharing a common language.
This means people in the lake of fire will be unable to think...because if they were able to even think, they would be able to create and repair.
How can God justly prevent these people from thinking?
They will be tortured.
When we get stressed, our amygdala fires.
It is an almond shaped neuro-structure in the brain.
It sends a message to the adrenal glands causing adrenaline to be sent through the blood stream.
When the brain is on adrenaline it does not think!
It goes to fight or flight.
One of the FIRST things I teach during Problem Solving Courses is DON'T PANIC!
When a problem occurs, the first thing you need to do is relax and give your body time to reabsorb the adrenaline.
This has to be rehearsed ahead of time because when you are on adrenaline, ALL that comes out is what has been rehearsed and/or practiced.
When adrenaline kicks in, people do what they've done before.
If they have never experienced the problem, they do what they have seen.
This is why people (especially kids) act like their parents.
This is also why the types of movies you watch are important.
You will end up reproducing what you've seen if you don't rehearse something different.
People know this...that is why they say to count to ten before acting or golfers take extra time walking around a putt after they have missed an easy one...they are intentionally giving their bodies time to absorb the adrenaline.
The worst thing you can do is react while you are on adrenaline...more importantly, reacting to someone who is on adrenaline will cause them to fire MORE adrenaline.
When you understand the CAUSE, these situations are understandable and it is easier to ramp them down.
Getting back to the lake of fire...
People will be constantly tortured, causing their amygdala to constantly fire, causing the adrenaline to be released, causing them not to be able to think.
Why is this just?
Because these people chose not to think during their time on earth...they are getting what they chose for eternity.
While in heaven, people will be thinking...and this will cause them to repair and grow.
Speaking of justice...is it just for us NOT to be ABLE to achieve perfection while we are on earth?
If it isn't possible for us to achieve perfection, then why is anyone guilty?
If we are ABLE to achieve perfection, how is it possible?
Do people go to Heaven because they lack sins or because they have righteousness or both?
Do people go to the lake of fire because they are sinful or lack righteousness or both?
It is possible for us to achieve perfection.
Our lack of perfection is our fault, not God's.
Going to heaven has NOTHING to do with sin.
Going to heaven (salvation) has EVERYTHING to do with righteousness.
This is a huge misconception with current "Christian" leaders and authors.
If salvation has ANYTHING to do with sin, then we have contradictions...
EVERYONE (except Jesus) has sinned.
SOME of these people are going to Heaven, some are going to hell.
If the requirement for going to Heaven was to have no sin, then Jesus would be the ONLY one in Heaven.
The word "sin" doesn't occur in Genesis.
Paul says the Law was given so that we would know sin...before the Law people didn't know sin.
Yet some of those people went to Heaven and the rest went to hell.
How can sin have anything to do with salvation?
If a person makes "lack of sin" a condition of salvation, then salvation is not possible.
If the same person gets comparative in order to prove their point and remain comfortable, they can ONLY make the APPEARANCE of "lack of sin" a condition of salvation.
THEN the focus becomes the outside (EFFECTS) of the individual, not the inside (CAUSES) of the individual.
These people literally become modern day Pharisees.
They are preaching EFFECTS as CAUSES.
These people have righteousness (good EFFECTS) for fleshly reasons, NOT Godly CAUSES.
(This seems SO obvious now, but it will make you sick as you realize we have a lot of Pharisees teaching us doctrine.)
(This is doctrine based on man-made tradition and NOT the non-contradictory Word of God.)
The Bible ACTUALLY says that salvation is according to righteousness.
(Next time you read a verse mentioning "salvation", notice how righteousness is also mentioned.)
For instance, Jesus said:
"For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20)
This means we HAVE TO HAVE GOOD EFFECTS FOR THE RIGHT CAUSES in order to attain salvation!
NO OTHER explanation is non-contradictory with the Bible!
How can we have righteousness for Godly CAUSES?
How can we achieve perfection?
There is ONLY ONE answer: GRACE!
Grace is the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in the life.
This is the ONLY definition that fits every usage of "charis" in the New Testament.
Basically, God influences your heart to do something AND you choose to let the influence come out.
You don't choose to do it, because that would be YOUR righteousness...
Grace is an expression of our will to let God's Will be done through us.
We are NOT the CAUSE of the righteousness...God is the CAUSE.
We are responsible for the righteousness, otherwise God can't send ANYONE to the lake of fire.
I had someone explain grace is like medicine.
When a person is sick, they choose to take medicine.
When they get well, it would be silly for them to say they healed themselves.
However, they were responsible for getting well.
Grace results in actions that lead to maximum profitability...that is, perfection.
Grace also results in actions that lead to salvation...and expression of the will of the individual to take direction from God.
EVERYONE who ends up in Heaven got there by taking direction from God instead of their flesh.
Because they can't see God and they didn't see the EFFECTS until after they made the choice, this was done through faith.
Paul says in Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."
This DOESN'T JUST apply for people after the cross.
This is how EVERYONE who is EVER going to be in Heaven gets saved.
The method of "grace" is different at different times.
In Eden, God spoke face to face with Adam and Eve.
Today, God speaks to us on the inside through the Holy Spirit...we have God on the inside of us!
Do we REALIZE this power?
Do we let God direct more of our actions?
Do we GROW in grace?
Martin Luther defined grace as "unmerited favor".
Basically, grace is value we get to cover our sins that we didn't deserve.
How does "unmerited favor" result in righteousness?
This 500 year old man-made tradition is actively being taught in churches today.
This man-made doctrine says that salvation is attained by getting rid of sin.
This contradictory belief is literally making the Word and Will of God of none effect...
It is denying our ability to repair...
It is barring people from salvation...
When the Pharisees were told they were choosing a man-made tradition over the Word and Will of God, they intentionally chose to pursue culture, appearance, tradition, and contradictory beliefs instead of the non-contradictory Word of God...and THAT is why they were denied salvation.
What would today's leaders say if they had to choose between appearance, culture, man-made tradition, contradictory doctrine, and Pharisee-like control denying uniqueness and profitability OR God's non-contradictory Will and Word that leads to freedom to be unique?
What would do you choose?
Life or death?
The Word of God or Tradition?
Faith or Culture?
Uniqueness or Appearance?
Grace or The Pharisees?