The Gospel for Today
God is love. When God built His universe, He constructed it to operate in harmony with His nature and character. The construction protocol upon which the universe is built is commonly known as God’s law. The Bible tells us that this law is the “law of love,” which is not a feeling, but the principle of other-centeredness, giving or beneficence that life is designed by God to operate upon. (Rom 13:10, James 2:8, 1 Cor 13:5)
A simple example is respiration. With every breath we breathe we give away carbon dioxide and plants give back oxygen to us. This is God’s design for life, a perpetual circle of free giving. If you break this circle of giving by tying a plastic bag over your head, you break the law and the result is death. “The wages [result] of sin is death.” (Rom 6:23) This circle of giving that God constructed life to operate upon is the law of love in action.
God created mankind, in Eden, with minds that operated in harmony with God’s design for life, the law of love. In this state there was peace, joy, contentment and perfect physical and mental health, because everything was in perfect harmony with the design protocols God built life to operate upon (law of love).
Sin is lawlessness, (1Jn 3:4) or being outside God’s design for life. Rather than having love as the operating principle that governs our existence, humankind is now dominated by fear and selfishness, more commonly known as “survival-of-the-fittest.” This is the principle of watching out for self at the expense of others, “kill or be killed.”
In this condition the mind does not operate as God designed. Instead of perpetual peace, love, and joy, the mind is dominated by a need to survive, and is driven by fear, insecurity and threat assessment.
Because of sin we are biologically wired to be afraid, with brains no longer balanced as God designed. We experience the emotion of fear from the activation of the amygdala in our brains. Firing of the amygdala, causes anxiety, worry, and dread, which activates the stress pathways in the body, causing inflammation which results in multiple health problems like ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, irritability, depression, dementia etc.[ii] [iii] [iv] [v] [vi]
Any belief or activity that chronically increases fear, anxiety, or worry causes increased inflammation, with subsequent worsening physical and mental health, to include higher rates of depression and dementia. This would include beliefs about God that incite chronic fear. Conversely, beliefs that instill love as the motivating principle in the heart calm the brain’s fear circuits and result in improved physical and mental health. Perfect love rids us of all fear. (1Jn 4:18)
The church after Christ’s ascension taught a theology which focused on the principles of love, and Christ’s mission to reveal truth, defeat Satan, and restore the law of love into humankind.
Justin Martyr (103-165) taught Christ came to do three things – overthrow death, destroy Satan and restore humanity back to God’s design, thus providing eternal life to fallen humanity.
(Christ) having been made flesh submitted to be born of the Virgin, in order that through this dispensation the Serpent, who at the first had done evil, and the angels assimilated to him might be put down and death might be despised.[vii]
Robert Franks describes Justin’s theology:
In fact we find in Justin clear indications of the presence to his mind of the recapitulation theory, afterwards more fully developed by Irenaeus, according to which Christ becomes a new head of humanity, undoes the sin of Adam by reversing the acts and circumstances of his disobedience, and finally communicates to men immortal life.[viii]
Franks also describes Irenaeus’ (2nd Century AD – 202) theology:
We come here to the famous Irenaean docrtrine of Recapitulation. The conception is that of Christ as the Second Adam, or second head of humanity, who not only undoes the consequences of Adam’s fall, but also takes up the development of humanity broken off in him, and carries it to completion, i.e. to union with God and consequent immortality.
“It was God recapitulating the ancient creation of man in Himself, that He might slay sin, and annul death, and give life to man… The Son of God, when He was incarnate and was made man, recapitulated in Himself the long line of men, giving us salvation compendiously (in compendio), so that what we had lost in Adam, viz. that we should be after in the image and similitude of God, this we should receive in Jesus Christ.”[ix]
Amazingly, the early church understood Christ’s mission was to rebuild humanity back into God’s original design. They realized God’s law of love was the template upon which He built His universe and rightly realized that in order to save mankind the law upon which life is constructed to operate had to be restored into humanity. Christ’s mission was to restore mankind back into harmony with God!
If this is how the early church understood it, if this is what Christ accomplished, then what happened? How have we drifted so far?
Romanism – Imperial Rome’s concept of government and law infected Christian thought when Constantine converted. Prior to Constantine’s conversion, Christianity understood God’s law as the law of love: Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (emphasis mine). (Rom 13:10 see also Gal 5:14, Jas 2:8, Mt 12:37-40, Prov12:28, 21:21, Ps 19:7)
But, after Constantine converted the Christian church accepted Rome’s change to God’s law, and what was that change? That God’s law is an imposed law put upon His creatures to govern their lives and test their obedience rather than the truth that God’s law is the natural law, the principle upon which He created life to operate.
Christians lost sight of God’s law of love and instead accepted an imposed law by a powerful potentate. After all, if they still believed God’s law was the natural law of love, like the law of respiration, would they ever have thought a church committee could vote to change such a law? Something the Roman church did vote in committee to do. But they could only vote to change God’s law, after they first accepted the concept that His law is imposed, not natural.[x]
Protestant or Catholic matters not, both have accepted this idea that God’s law is imposed, and unavoidably have accepted the fear inducing views of God such a belief creates – God the imperial imposer of law, punisher of law breakers, and source of torture and death for all who fail to have their sins paid. Such views incite fear and subsequently activate amygdala resulting in worsening mental and physical health.
God is calling for His children to return to their first love – the truth about Him as Jesus revealed. God is love! This is the good news, the eternal good news that we are called to share throughout the universe. Only by rejecting the infection of Imperial Rome and returning to Biblical concepts of God’s law of love can we fulfill our purpose as His children.
[ i ] Evidence from Inspiration that the law of God is the law of love which is the law of life:
- Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10
- The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
- If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”you are doing right. James 2:8
- Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt 12:37-40
- In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality. Pr 12:28
- He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. Pr 21:21
- The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. Ps 19:7
[ ii ] Miller AH, et al. Biol Psychiatry. 2009;65(9):732-741.
[ iii ] Goldstein BI, et al. J Clin Psychiatry. 2009;70(8):1078-1090.
[ iv ] Szelényi J, Vizi ES. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2007;1113:311-324.
[ v ] Banasr M, et al. Biol Psychiatry. 2008;64(10):863-870.
[vi] from Danese A, et al. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009;163(12):1135-1143.
[ vii ] Franks, Robert S. A History of the Doctrine of the Work of Christ in its Ecclesiastical Development vol. 1, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1918, p. 21.
[ x ] Compare Catholic versus Protestant Ten Commandments. Catholic version removes number two (graven images) splits Ten into two, change language of the Sabbath commandment (number four in Protestant versions and due to eliminating number two, the Sabbath commandment is number three in the Catholic version). They also, in their catechism, claim to have changed the holiness of Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. We do not argue any of these points. We only use this to illustrate the acceptance of a change in God’s law from a natural law to an imposed law. If theologians viewed God’s law as a principle upon which life is built, like the law of gravity, thermodynamics, respiration they would not have voted in committee to make changes to it. The fact they have changed it reveals the acceptance of Imperial Rome’s concept of law.