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The Shadow of Things to Come

Foreshadowing is a literary term that serves as an indication, a warning of future events. Shakespeare mastered the art of foreshadowing, sprinkling this technique within several of his literary pieces. From a biblical point of view, the Old Testament is full of foreshadowing as hints of a Messiah started dropping following Original Sin, Genesis 3:15. Prophets of old placed imagery into the Bible to prepare first century Jews for Jesus’ arrival.

Such [things] are only the shadow of things that are to come, and they have only a symbolic value. But the reality (the substance, the solid fact of what is foreshadowed, the body of it) belongs to Christ, Colossians 2:17.

In a letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul refers to the shadow of things to come. This passage serves as a way to unwrap the science of God. Theology unveils the connection between Jesus and God the Father. Colossians 2:13-15 illustrates how Jesus was able to conquer death and cancel the written code set up in the Old Testament. The foreshadowing here is likely the future church, belonging to and united by Jesus.

Let no one defraud you by acting as an umpire and declaring you unworthy and disqualifying you for the prize, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions [he claims] he has seen, vainly puffed up by his sensuous notions and inflated by his unspiritual thoughts and fleshly conceit, Colossians 2:18.

Unfortunately, premature judgements, labeling and stereotypes have corrupted modern day churches. As leaders act as umpires instead of spiritual mentors, the gospel message has been watered down. When preachers end up becoming hypocrites, void of any spiritually fruit, souls are left with a bad taste. If Christians aren’t prepared for the storms of life, the shadow of things to come will bring ruin rather than rest. May this blog serve as a warning to prepare yourself for future rough patches, James 1:3-6, like a shadow of things to come.

by Jay Mankus

The Mystery of God’s Will

Mystery refers to something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain. Whether you’re watching a well done movie, trying to solve a complicated problem or exploring a foreign topic, you may find yourself baffled. Depending upon how hungry you are to resolve these question marks, riddles take time to unravel. Like trying to complete a complex thousand piece jigsaw puzzle, you need to complete the outside edge before your picture comes into focus.

Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in Him, 10 [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth, Ephesians 1:9-10.

One of the greatest enigmas in life is narrowing in on God’s will for your own life. Sometimes you may whittle it to one of two career paths before the Lord throws you a curve. Throughout college I thought I would either become a golf course architect or become a youth pastor. While completing a duel internship in Ohio, I followed a calling to go into youth ministry. Yet, just 2 years later, I burned myself out, got married and ended up working as an assistant golf professional. During my first Player’s Ability Test, the big step to become a teaching golf profession, God intervened on numerous occasions, a clear sign that this wasn’t meant to be. When you 3 and 4 putt the easiest hole on the course when 5 putts would have been enough, I changed directions,

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

Nearly 25 years later, I still haven’t solved the mystery of God’s will for my life. While I do believe God wanted me to move back to the East Coast to attend seminary, a rare eye disease prevented me finishing a master’s in theology. Although the apostle Paul suggests keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is possible, Galatians 5:25, I tend to get lost, drifting off on a my own every year. I did spend 10 years of my life perfectly aligned with God’s will as a high school Bible teacher and golf coach. Meanwhile, I believe starting this blog 9 years ago also fits into God’s plan. Nonetheless, I have no idea on what my next step is except for following Paul’s advice listed above so that the mystery of God’s will for my life is unveiled.

by Jay Mankus

Receiving the Holy Spirit

William McDowell – Spirit Break Out (Lyrics) – YouTube

Every generation contains individuals who attempt to reinvent that which has already occurred. Whether as some sort of superiority complex or stubbornness, these confident people refuse to back down regardless of what others believe, proclaim or think. Participating in a debate to expose a specific flawed mindset seems to be a productive use of time. However, when the crowd you are trying to convince doesn’t budge, even persuasive words can’t turn a hardened heart.

O you poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians! Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you, unto whom—right before your very eyes—Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was openly and graphically set forth and portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and believing [it]? [Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?] – Galatians 3:1-2

In the middle of the first Century, a group of new Christians formed a sect to appease Jews who didn’t want to let go of following the Torah. According to the apostle Paul, a group known as the Judaizers infiltrated the Church at Galatia. Unwilling to let go of Jewish traditions, these religious leaders began to convince members of the church to add circumcision to salvation. Ingrained within many followers from birth, this new teaching spread quickly throughout the Galatian Church. Subsequently, Jewish Christians began to look down upon and separate from Gentile converts to Christianity. Thus, Paul rebukes leaders in the passage above.

Have you suffered so many things and experienced so much all for nothing (to no purpose)—if it really is to no purpose and in vain? Then does He Who supplies you with His marvelous [Holy] Spirit and works powerfully and miraculously among you do so on [the grounds of your doing] what the Law demands, or because of your believing in and adhering to and trusting in and relying on the message that you heard? – Galatians 3:4-5

In recent years, new debates often related to theology have caused divisions within the 21st century church. One common dispute involves receiving the Holy Spirit. Some denominations claim that this is only accomplished immediately following a believer’s baptisms. Other doctrines refer to a Day of Pentecost moment where individuals experience a similar outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When these two ideologies clash, I’ve witnessed nasty confrontations on both sides. Yet, according to the Bible, Romans 8:1-8 and Romans 10:9-11 highlight how people of faith can receive the Holy Spirit today. May this occur without any hesitation so that lives are transformed by God’s Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

The Dispensation of the Spirit

From a theological point of view, dispensation is a distinctive arrangement; a period in history that forms the framework through which God relates to mankind. The traditional definition is an exemption from a rule or usual requirement. In the context of the church, dispensation is permission to be exempted from the laws and or religious observances. As spiritual leaders, pastors, and teachers share the gospel message each week, peace, pardon, righteousness and salvation, spiritual joy and comfort are expressed.

Why should not the dispensation of the Spirit [this spiritual ministry whose task it is to cause men to obtain and be governed by the Holy Spirit] be attended with much greater and more splendid glory? – 2 Corinthians 3:8

According to the apostle Paul, this dispensation of the Holy Spirit is done in accordance with his church planting ministry. As spiritual seeds are sown by explaining the mystery of faith, people are drawn to gain access to this living water, John 4:11-14. As individuals make decisions to become born again, John 3:4-6, new believers take baby steps, Galatians 5:25, as they learn the process of being governed by the Holy Spirit. However, making a transition from the flesh to the Spirit doesn’t come easy, Galatians 5:16-18.

For if the service that condemns [the ministration of doom] had glory, how infinitely more abounding in splendor and glory must be the service that makes righteous [the ministry that produces and fosters righteous living and right standing with God]! – 2 Corinthians 3:9

The passage above eludes to sanctifying grace, the transitional process while participating in a new divine lifestyle. This transformation does not occur overnight. Rather, this progression takes a lifetime as you learn to discard your old self by putting on Christ, Colossians 3:1-5. The passage above refers to the ministration of doom. Paul mentions the condemnation which awaits transgressors who live according to Old Testament law. Thus, as Jesus fulfills the promise of a Messiah, the Savior of the world in the New Testament, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit is now available to those who believe.

by Jay Mankus

Memorializing Christ

The Bible claims that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith, Hebrews 12:2,  The author of Hebrews attempts to explain how the Old Testament applies to Jesus who shed his blood as a form of propitiation.  The apostle Paul builds upon this by saying Jesus conquered sin and death on the cross, 1 Corinthians 15:53-57.  While Memorial Day weekend comes once a year, we should memorialize Christ’s victory daily as Jesus disarmed the powers and the authorities which stood oppose to human beings, Colossians 2:15.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life, Leviticus 17:11.

In the original Webster’s Dictionary, the word authority does not exist by itself.  Rather, the term authority is found under the definition for author.  The root of authority comes from the term authorship meaning origination or creation.  After being expelled from heaven, Lucifer tried to obtain the earthly authority given to Adam and Eve by God using deception.  When his plan began to change Eve’s mind, Adam didn’t stop her.  In response to the fall, Jesus was sent as the second Adam, Romans 5:12-21, to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins, Hebrews 9:22.

The science of God, theology, can be confusing.  Sometimes it takes time to digest complex passages in the Bible.  Instead of getting bogged down, I try to simplify things so I do not forget what the Lord has done.  According to Romans 3, we all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory.  The wages for this fall is an unfortunate payment, death, Romans 6:23a.  However, the reason why we should memorialize Christ is at the end of Romans 6:23b.  “For the gift of God is eternal life, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

by Jay Mankus

Bringing to Light the Secret Things

Biblical context helps prevent wrong interpretations of Scripture. When you make assumptions about a specific verse in the Bible, you have to view each individual passage like one piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Context allows you to place similar pieces together. The more pieces you have connected, the clearer your understanding becomes of the Bible. The term theology refers to the science of God. The more you read and study the Bible, the full meaning of a passage comes into focus.

So do not make any hasty or premature judgments before the time when the Lord comes [again], for He will both bring to light the secret things that are [now hidden] in darkness and disclose and expose the [secret] aims (motives and purposes) of hearts. Then every man will receive his [due] commendation from God, 1 Corinthians 4:5.

In the passage above, Paul is writing to members of Corinth who had a tendency to jump to conclusions. A spiritual leader named Apollos became a fan favorite, like the church whose attendance drops whenever the senior pastor isn’t preaching. Thus, Paul encourages first century Christians to avoid making premature decisions. Give outsiders a chance, an opportunity to demonstrate and sow spiritual fruit. While not everyone will be eloquent, Christ living within hearts make leaders great.

When we were living in the flesh (mere physical lives), the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by [what] the Law [makes sin] were constantly operating in our natural powers (in our bodily organs, in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh), so that we bore fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life], Romans 7:5-6.

One chapter unveils the issue raging within human souls. The apostle Paul pours out his heart in Romans 7, explaining the invisible tug of war that exists within each person. Bringing to light the secret things, Paul exposes sinful passions that arouse sensitive appetites. When you connect the passage above to Galatians 5:16-17, this internal spiritual war comes to life. Like feeding a beast, the more you give into selfish desires, the less room there is for the Holy Spirit to operate. Therefore, if you want to follow the prompting of God’s spirit, hearts and minds must be fixed on things above, Colossians 3:1-4.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Let Feelings Control Your Theology

Theology is the science of God; the study of beliefs, doctrines and theories based upon the Bible. Meanwhile, feelings are a natural reaction to your emotional state. Under duress, hardship or trials, feelings will clash with your theology. Depending upon your state of mind, words may come out of your mouth that contradict what you actually believe. Thus, when push comes to shove, never let feelings control your theology.

But their report seemed to them like idle talk and nonsense, and they would not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. Stooping [at the small entrance] and looking in, he saw only the linen wrappings; and he went away, wondering about what had happened, Luke 24:11-12.

Three days after Jesus’ death, a group of women are eager to tell the disciples about their encounter with two angels. One of these eye witnesses is Jesus’ mom, insisting that the Lord has risen from the dead. Instead of rejoicing, these men let their feelings control their theology. Subsequently, the disciples accused these women of gossip, hearsay and non-sense. Yet, Peter ran to the tomb hoping that these women were telling the truth.

When Mary came [to the place] where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit [to the point of anger at the sorrow caused by death] and was troubled, John 11:32-33.

About a year earlier, two sisters found themselves in a similar situation. Their brother had died, succumbing to a fatal illness. However, Martha, reached out to Jesus prior to his death, begging him to come heal Lazarus. When Jesus finally arrived, Mary, the youngest, accused Jesus of not caring and essentially blaming him for Lazarus’ death. While these women let their emotions control their comments, Jesus stayed focused. Jesus gave commands to roll back the tombstone, stood death in the face and brought Lazarus back to life. This is an example of what can happen when belief, conviction and faith never waver.

by Jay Mankus

What a Waste of Time

During my time pursuing a master’s in theology, I came across an interesting concept.  The Triangle Theory is a Time Management exercise to help examine where your time on earth is spent.  If you draw an isosceles triangle on a blank page of paper, the bottom represents 24 hours in a day.  Depending upon your sleep schedule, 1/3 or 1/4 of your life is spent sleeping.  School or work will take over 8-10 hours per day, leaving a few precious hours to enjoy life, purse passions or relax.   If you want a true barometer of how your time is spent, keep track of 16-18 hours each weekend that most Americans have.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours! 25 Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither], 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.

Last year I took my family out to lunch, explaining the Triangle Theory as we waited for our food.  Without being too anal, I urged my children to begin to keep track of how they are currently investing their free time.  The purpose of this discussion was to encourage my daughter and youngest son to become vision oriented, focusing their attention and time on fulfilling dreams.  Not leaving myself exempt from this, I began to share the sacrifices that I need to make to write a 100 page movie script each winter, usually lasting until late spring.  Despite how diligent I try to be, I regularly waste an entire weekend to indulge my human nature rather than focus on becoming an accomplished screen writer.

Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. 27 But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service], 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.

One troubling question remains, if I truly want to pursue a career in writing, why do I waste so much time?  Perhaps, my former hobby as a long distance runner may help answer my own question.  The thought of running miles never made sense to most of my friends.  Running is a battle of the body and mind, causing most to quit before the love of running is conceived.  The apostle Paul uses a similar analogy, stressing the strict discipline to persist until your ultimate goal is achieved.  While its not easy and you will have more failures than success, may the Triangle Theory serve as a tool to enable you to seize the free time that you have each day.  May you run in such a way, suffering now, as to receive crowns in heaven God has set aside for you.

by Jay Mankus

Why is this Separation Necessary?

During my introduction to a variety of church denominations in high school, I was naïve to the drastic differences that existed.  Since I was taught to focus on religious traditions, I was accepting to other ones that I didn’t know about or understand.  Some of my closest friends were Mormons who didn’t drink or smoke, a positive influence for any parent worried about their children getting involved with the wrong crowd.  When I got to college, there was a greater emphasis on theology, specific beliefs, doctrines and interpretations of the Bible.  This biblical teaching that I absorbed confused me, forcing me to re-examine former beliefs that I held.  I guess you can say I was stuck somewhere between loving others for who they are and confronting ungodly practices that strayed from the Bible.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.   For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law,” Matthew 10:34-35. 

Today, Universalism has been embraced to avoid offending other churches, denominations and religions.  The mindset behind this ideology uses love as justification and rationalization, claiming “surely a loving God would not condemn his own created children.  This worldview suggests there are many paths to heaven, even if it means accepting other religions that contradict or stray from biblical accounts.  During a blunt conversation with his disciples, Jesus reveals the division that will occur within families that hold different religious beliefs.  This isn’t a matter of if, but when this spiritual rift will arise.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,” Matthew 25:31-32.

In the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, Jesus unveils a glimpse of what to expect in the future.  At the end of time, God will separate sheep from the goats.  Based upon John 14:6 and Acts 4:12, Jesus is the only path, the sole way to heaven.  Thus, the sheep are symbolic of those who accept Jesus into their hearts, Romans 10:9-10, enduring persecution for the sake of Christ.  Meanwhile, the goats are individuals who try to find another way to heaven, straying from the instructions in the Bible.  Coming to grips with this separation is tough, especially if loved ones are stuck on the other side.  Yet, I’d rather someone tell me the truth now, while I am alive, than after it’s too late.  Hopefully, this explains why this separation is necessary.

by Jay Mankus

 

Brain Washed, Deceived or Set Free?

When I was in high school, theology was not something I addressed with people from different religious backgrounds.  Thus, I hung out in the Mormon Church playing volleyball, went to a Methodist youth group and was a member of a Roman Catholic church.  Unfortunately, this atmosphere changed as I entered college.  Religious leaders often went out of their way exposing the flaws and shortcomings of each faith.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15.

This climate leads to one of three responses.  Those who change their beliefs are either brain washed, deceived by false teachers or set free.  This commonly held mindset ended several relationships I had with individuals from different faiths.  On one occasion, I discovered I was placed on the do not talk to list by one cult, afraid I might convince members to leave this church.  In a quest to prove whose God is true, division often ruins friendships.

Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander, 1 Peter 3:16.

I’m assuming the context of the 2 passages above refer to a similar situation.  Peter understood that when you are debating or discussing differences in religions that you must be respectful.  Any type of arrogance, pride or smugness will offend those you are trying to convince to come over to your side of an issue.  Perhaps, individuals should follow in the footsteps of God who offers free will, not forcing anyone to believe.  Regardless of how passionate you may be, remember to talk to others who you disagree with gentleness and respect.  This honors the Lord and helps others keep an open mind in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

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