by stephen s. sawyer / artist / author 

The CALVARY Book

 WHO ARE WE REALLY THAT GOD WOULD BECOME 
A MORTAL AND DIE TO SAVE US?

page 17

Is there something about ‘who we are’ that we need to know? How did we become so important that God would send His Son and be willing that He should die a horrible death? Why are we worthy to receive the Holy Spirit?

 Let me say this to everyone who stopped and said, “but we aren’t worthy”. God does not make mistakes. God sends the rain to fall on the just and unjust. As true as, “Whosoever will, may enter the Kingdom”, the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon us by a perfect God. Our thoughts and deeds make us worthy or unworthy. Jesus called us His friends. That means we have the potential to become worthy. It is better to take the responsibility and live up to our worthiness, by serving others, than to live behind the excuses based on our facade (mask) of unworthiness. The old covenant says we are unworthy but can become bondservants to God. The new covenant says we are His friends. Bondservants can serve out of fear and but only friends are truly able to serve out of love. This is part of the solution. We cannot become who we really are if we are afraid of God. Fear will not allow us to serve on the level of Jesus’ commandment, that we love one another as He has loved us.

NEWS FLASH...Drug addicts are not afraid of God so why would 'fear of God' be the solution?

Men and women who are taught to be afraid of God find out very quickly that “god” is powerless to stop them from doing anything. The thrill of getting away with something and not getting caught or punished elevates our weaknesses into an illusions of strength. Bad logic says that if God doesn’t stop us or punish us then He probably can’t. The misery around the world proves to some people, if there is a God, “it” doesn’t care or doesn’t exist. “If He really loved me He would cure my Mom of cancer.” “The neighbors are bad people and they have lots of money.” Having a worldview with unrealistic expectations of our Creator is part of a global problem that makes drugs just as valid as religion. 

We should not choose the “fear of going to hell” as a reason to go to church or believe in God.

The other possibility is that we can be taught to befriend and partner with God rather than fear Him. Fear of God has proven to be a disastrous addition to the Gospel of Jesus. While it may have temporarily worked to control men and women during the times of the Old Testament, it nonetheless didn’t work except to marginally curb our human appetites of self-indulgence.  If “fear” was rightfully attached to the truth that sets us free, Jesus hardly would have needed to come here to demonstrate God’s tender mercy and forgiveness. People knew back then that God wouldn’t stop unholiness, even unto the death of our Savior. We still know it and continue to operate under those conditions. We must move beyond a failed doctrine, whose traditions have become sacred, because hundreds of thousands of men and women in the bondage of drug addiction and crime are dying physically and spiritually in the midst of available truth.

Who are we really, that God would become a mortal and die to save us? What redeeming qualities are hidden within us that are so precious to our God?  Are we more likely to refuse or give up drugs if we believe we were born into sin or because we are children of God and friends of Jesus? If, because of Adam and Eve, we are born into sin, are we more likely to commit adultery since we deserve to go to hell before we even get a chance? If we are doomed to failure we are not worth saving. If, on the other hand, we are precious in His sight it must be because there resides within us something so valuable that the Creator would become a mortal and teach us face-to-face those truths which could not be learned in any other way. The mortal reactions to this same Jesus ranged from adoration to hatred.

One thing is sure, no one comes in contact with Jesus without formulating an opinion.

There are thousands of reasons people harbor a grudge against merely a perception of God. Sometimes the grudge is secret and sometimes it is public. Most atheists and agnostics, I have met, don’t believe in God because of the Old Testament. They read that He asks us to forgive our enemies while at the same time he exacts revenge upon His enemies. They believe the story about Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son is part of their proof. They also hold dear to their hearts that anyone willing to serve a “god” like that is naïve and stupid. Is there something about the way in which the atheists interpret the Old Testament which may hold some value in light of what Jesus taught us?

Atheists are not the real enemy of God, science is not the enemy of God and evolution is not the devil’s textbook. Science has pulled religion kicking and screaming through the centuries forcing us to give up our superstitious beliefs. It was our man-made beliefs, strapped upon the precious back of religion, that decided our earth was flat and the center of the universe. If we harken back to the olden “sacred” remedies, which utterly failed to protect churches from the destruction of lightning strikes, we introduce Benjamin Franklin and the “lightning rod” which he invented in 1752. “As late as 1770 many religious Americans still felt that, since thunder and lightning were tokens of the Divine displeasure, it was impiety to prevent their doing their full work. It took a few decades for the devout to abandon their religious prejudices regarding the use of the lightning rod, but eventually it was demonstrated to all but the most dense that both the “vengeance of God” and the “Prince of the Power of the Air” were forced to retreat before the lightning-rod of a heretic.”

(A. D. White, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology & Skip Church)

Railing against science simply keeps Christians watching the wrong card. Science is a grand opportunity for us to learn just how brilliant and amazing our universe is. Even though science seeks to understand the “truth”, without a God, it will eventually penetrate the veil where nothing else is left but God. That is part of the process we must endure because of the mess left by the pathetic attempt of Lucifer to become God.

Whoever we are, we are searching to uncover the truth. Atheists, scientists, philosophers, theologians, agnostics, believers of all faiths, and all types of spiritual artisans have searched for knowledge of truth for thousands of years. It is smug of us as Christians to simply say that we know the “truth” and have exclusive rights and privileges to this truth. It is also very judgmental of us to presume to know who will go to Heaven and who will not. We should focus on living as Jesus instructed us and not worry so much about who is right or wrong and who is going to heaven or hell. God has planted the seed within all mortals to seek out the source of their being. This quest, which should have united mankind, has further divided us into little more than twenty first century tribes who, without our high tech weapons, fare little better than our primitive ancestors. Don’t let agriculture, science, architecture, medicine, religion, technology, and the other practices of ‘modern’ civilization fool us. Strip away our veneers of civilization and you will find us reverting to sticks and stones because that is the physical part of who we are. What makes us worth saving is the spiritual part of us. The Kingdom of God is within us. That means that God lives within us and somehow our Creator has enough trust in our potential to be subservient to our free will. Jesus trusted his disciples to carry on His ministry knowing they would fall victim to their own flaws in wisdom, foresight, and understanding. God has sufficient belief in our ability to rise above our imperfections to allow us to chart our own destiny.

There are questions in most of our private minds and hearts that often never make it to our public lips for fear of criticism by our religious leaders or associates. Is it fair that we continue exalting the “God” of Isaac and Jacob if we only promote a God who requires death and spreads fear? People who’ve abandoned Christianity refuse to pay allegiance to a God who is, according to his actions in the Old Testament, no different than the people we send to prison. Are the people who can’t reconcile the God of anger, vengeance, and fear more likely to accept drugs as an acceptable addition to their daily life? Is the Old Covenant (Testament), as reviled by atheists and exemplified in books like Leviticus, what God is really about? Because Jesus was born a Jew, does that make the Old Testament, the sacred history of the Jews, the only words from God? How many passages of the Old Covenant did Jesus actually quote to verify His message? Did Jesus need to quote scripture to validate His message? I believe Jesus used scripture as a stepping stone to a higher truth, His truth. How many scriptures do we quote to prove that Jesus was the Son of God? How many passages of the Old Covenant must we quote to “prove” to unbelievers that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were prophesied? Does quoting all of those scriptures actually “save” the lost or does quoting verses bring us the satisfaction that we have fulfilled our obligations to pagans? I wonder how many times someone like Mother Teresa felt the need to quote scripture?

(http://www.ewtn.com/motherteresa/words.htm)


Is quoting scripture our way of proving that we are saved rather than loving and touching the lives, in a personal way, those whom we presume to lead to Christ? We must lead people to Jesus not only in “word” but in the power of the Holy Spirit. That power best manifests itself as loving kindness, forgiveness, and service.
​ Why do you follow Jesus? Would you still follow Jesus if Mary wasn’t a virgin? Would you follow Jesus if he never performed miracles? Would you still follow Jesus if He had chosen not to raise Lazarus, heal the sick, feed the multitudes, or resurrect Himself? Would you follow Jesus if He only taught us about the mercy and forgiveness of the real living God? Are we still such a sign and wonder-seeking generation that we demand that our Savior perform miracles, as His enemies demanded, yet were denied? Isn’t it enough that Jesus showed us who and what God is really like and that He call us His friends? And, as His friends, He only wants voluntary total commitment and partnership. Does the Old Covenant prove that Jesus was the Son of God? Does the New Covenant (Testament) prove that Jesus was the Son of God? The only thing I know that proves the reality of God or Jesus is our personal experience. When we love God because we love each other...when we serve God because we serve each other...when we give without thought of our own reward...but for the sake of others...when we pray for others rather than ourselves...when we worship a magnificent Creator just to have the privilege to say, “thank you Father, for everything”...when we do all these loving things and more, we have allowed God to grow and become strong within our minds, souls, and spirit...strong enough to function within our mortal frames and experience the joy of living in mutual presence of His little children. We are, if we choose by our thoughts and deeds, the most precious physical expressions of God’s love. And be there only one lost person on this planet worth saving, God still would have sent to that one person, Jesus of Nazareth.
IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHY LUCIFER 
REBELLED AGAINST GOD THEN HOW DO
YOU KNOW YOU AREN’T SERVING HIM?

page 13


I was taught as a child that Lucifer was a brilliant being of light who fell in love
with himself and wanted to be God, worshiped as God, and things like that.
I’ve read that he wants to maim, kill, and destroy. I have read that he either
actually was a serpent or was represented as a serpent and that he has also
been called a dragon. I have heard people blame the devil for anything and
everything that made their life difficult and watched people dance with glee
​and sing a song about stomping on the devil’s head and heard people,
who I can’t imagine being of any possible use to a demonic rebellion,
say that the devil is after them personally. 

Misdirection, smoke and mirrors, watching one hand while the other one is up to mischief...these are things that Lucifer knew all too well. If we can’t figure out what a talented illusionists like David Blaine and the Mindfreak Criss Angel are doing with cards, when we are inches from their hands, then how is it that we presume with such confidence to know what the devil is doing? Do we really know our enemy? Do we really know his strategy? Can we really defend ourselves and our loved ones if we don’t understand just how brilliant a being he was? Apparently one of the most interesting aspects of free will is that even the highest angels can be fooled by self-importance.

​ 

Yes, we must put on the armor of God. Yes, we must worship and pray.
Yes, we can and must fight the good fight of faith.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, we can sit in church for one hour or twelve hours a week.
What I am asking is this. Do you really want to defeat the enemy and take territory that he cannot take back?
If the answer is ‘yes’ then the real battle plan of the enemy must be discovered.
What does the enemy want to “maim, kill, and destroy”? Does he just want to destroy our bodies or is there something more precious? After our friends are killed, our daughters raped, and our families destroyed, if the devil can make us believe that God is not all powerful, all wise, and full of love and goodness, then he has maimed our hearts, killed our hope, and destroyed our faith.  And if we are taught to have unfair expectations from our Heavenly Father then we might begin to believe the lies that spawned the question on Friday, Apr. 08, 1966 in TIME Magazine, “Is God Dead?”* Humans don’t need much of an excuse to rationalize their behavior and the seed of doubt as to God’s power and love can send millions of men and women fatally squandering their lives in selfish pursuits. And we know from experience that selfishness grows and becomes insatiable whether we have adopted a god of money, sex, drugs, or any other choices that damage and belittle the lives of others. (*http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,1101660408,00.html)
IS ALL OF OUR MISERY DUE TO OUR INABILITY TO HANDLE FREE WILL?   “What our free will is meant to do is to help God write the story.” - M. L’Engle

page 16

​ Sooner or later we must stop placing the blame for our condition on the devil and start taking
responsibility for where we are right now. Blaming others is part of the problem even when
we are the victims.  We can and should give God credit and praise for all of our circumstances
no matter how difficult they may be. That way we are already becoming part of the solution.
Who is enabling the drug addictions and self-destruction to continue? Can we still blame the
devil if we believe he is no longer in charge? You must decide, did Jesus defeat the devil or not?
If you said “yes” then God is in charge and we have been given just enough free-will to have an
enormous stake in our destiny and the destiny of others. If you said “no” then you are in the
​company of those with little hope for our future.
Why is there violence in our comings and goings? Why are our doors so dirty? Why do we have so many broken locks? How will we ever and only serve a real God if we don’t really know the real enemy? Our free-will is not the same as the free-will that Jesus had. God obviously and mercifully limits our free-will. Look around and see the destruction we have already caused. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we had the unlimited prerogatives of Jesus. The power to heal without a word? Healing the woman with the issue of blood, tells us much more about Jesus than when he said, “take up your bed and walk”, “Lazarus, come forth”, or even “your sins are forgiven”. Jesus’ had unlimited free will. His mind and heart were so pure and mercy dominated that a woman who secretly touched the hem of his garment was healed without His mortal knowledge. Can you imagine if we had more power than we already have? Imagine our thoughts becoming real in a split second. Ponder at the destruction of our minds if every horrible word we said or thought we had become real immediately. It’s a true testimony to how holy Jesus really was that His words and thoughts never betrayed God.

We do not yet deserve more power than we have. Because of the devil’s floundering regime we may already have more freedom than we can safely use. Consider how clearly we are technologically advanced beyond our spiritual ability to prevent the abuse of that power. We’re like five year old children, driving and speeding down the interstate during rush hour, simply because we wrote laws that say we can. We have to earn our freedoms rather than take them for granted. As children of unwise rich parents find it next to impossible to appreciate how difficult it is to earn and keep money, we too are helplessly spoiled by our so-called “rights and freedoms” that we cannot use without falling into the trap of our “divine right” to possess that which we cannot properly control. Like Lucifer wanting to possess this planet and finding out, after the “toothpaste is out of the tube” that without God, he could not control, restore, or undo it.


​We must become trustworthy in God’s eyes. We must be willing to serve with no recognition or reward. We must trust and know that God is in control, has always been in control, and understand that if He allows us to abuse our free-will then He must also allow it for beings higher than us like Lucifer. And if there is only one God then isn’t Lucifer one of His sons too. How deeply it must have hurt God to have one of His children go so dangerously astray to hurt and mislead untold millions of His innocent children here on earth. We must accept that God also extended His mercy to all the fallen angels. Regardless of how many centuries we are impacted by the designs of wickedness in high places, we must allow for His mercy to be complete before we expect judgment. And this is another one of our problems. We are living in the midst of God’s mercy to a madman named Lucifer and our world is still in chaos as a result of that perfect divine mercy. How often are we more concerned that God be merciful with us than with the ones who have hurt us? I believe Lucifer is long past repentance and will be destroyed. I also believe God takes no delight in that. How long it will take for earth to be restored is a question Jesus said no man can answer. Being part of the solution means we remain grateful that God extends mercy towards all of us long before we face judgment for our thoughts and deeds.
                                            WHAT’S UP WITH MOSES?
page 9

Few people have been in a tighter spot and held up better under the scrutiny of history’s
microscope than Moses. But there are some issues the artist should bring up that have
been suspiciously ignored or overlooked.

What’s with this, “You shall make no graven image or any other likeness of anything
that is in heaven above, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters or the earth....”?
(2nd commandment. Exodus 34, Protestant and Hebrew)

As the death knell for art spilled from Moses’ lips I can imagine artists leaping to their death from Mt. Sinai. Moses was leading a band of people who would worship Yahweh as well as the golden calf.  So wild were they at that time Moses presented them with some no-brainers like "don’t worship things ungodly", "don’t ask God to do ungodly things", "don’t kill people", "don’t mess around with another man’s wife", 'don’t steal', 'don’t lie', and "don’t covet".
These commandments were liberally topped off with the wrath of God whose judgement allowed men and women to be killed for countless transgressions with no mercy.  Leviticus is brimming over with allowable executions including the right to kill those who execute others.(www.positiveatheism.org/crt/whichcom.htm)

As we all know, laws are made for those who continually break them. 


Those commandments could have just as easily been written like this:  Stop killing other people, stop lying, stop stealing, etc.

Now it is time to get back to the second commandment. It was never art for art’s sake that Moses condemned. Moses condemned the worship of fetishes like the golden calf.  “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them...” The distinction that must be made is that a graven image becomes ungodly only when it is worshiped.

Otherwise it is just a “thing” like money and nothing says “ungodly” quite like trusting that money will solve your problems and bring you lasting joy instead of God. When an inanimate object is believed to possess magical powers or is elevated to the status of holiness it becomes a fetish. A fetish’s power resides in the fact that people believe a spirit resides within that fetish. It was never the fetish itself but the “spirit” which dwelt within it which became the object of worship. It is our persistent primitive nature that still leans toward worshiping the supposed spirit indwelling inanimate objects, animals, and ideas.
As of this century there are still things other than God which are considered sacred. There are stones, trees, volcanoes, comets, eclipse, humans, holy books, pieces of wood, cloth, hair, fingernails, black cats, numbers, words, phrases, days of the week, food, water, cups, rituals, sacrifices, traditions, shrines, altars, tombs, bones, blood, and countless other holy relics that have been elevated and remain elevated as “spirit indwelt”. Some Christians elevate the Shroud of Turin, the spear of Longinus, supposed pieces of the cross, nails from the crucifixion, the Garden Tomb, the church of the Holy Sepulcher, an even a piece of foreskin that is claimed to be from Jesus’ circumcision with such awe that it appears to go far beyond reverence to His memory.

 I have personally witnessed loud wailing and collapsing on the marble tomb over which Jesus was supposedly buried inside the church of the Holy Sepulcher. I was under the impression that part of our joy came from the knowledge of the empty tomb. For whom do these people weep and groan? I can certainly give examples of undue reverence displayed in the other world’s religions but I want us to clean our house first. I am not judging other religions. I am not judging Christianity, I am honoring the reason it exists and asking those who believe in Jesus to leave behind any unnecessary baggage. How can there be healing for us and others if we are pinning our faith and hopes on beliefs that are below the standards which Jesus set.


Jesus fully understood that even the laws of Moses were considered, by some, a holy fetish. He defied enough Mosaic law to be crucified on those grounds alone. Why did Jesus heal a man on the Sabbath? He didn’t even require that He or His disciples follow the strict codes about eating food. Jesus rebuked the fetish abuse of the written Mosaic law when He stated “even the devil can quote scripture”. It is important to consider that Jesus openly defied Mosaic law not to dishonor Moses but to fight against the laws from becoming abusive. 
​ And as Jesus would declare, the law was made for man not man made for the law.  Jesus also knew not to overthrow all superstitions which is why He mixed His spit with dirt and  applied the “sacred mud” on the eyelids of the blind man to restore his sight. There is no way that God needed to use spit to heal anything. Jesus was simply using a former belief to instill faith.  How can we believe that a God/Man could raise the dead with but three words, “Lazarus come forth” and somehow need spit to heal a blind man?
We need to realize just how brilliant Jesus was and is. He is certainly a genius by any standards far and above our ability to properly honor. 
Moses did what had to be done and the world is now a better place because of his leadership. He was even smart enough to hide the law and other items inside the Ark of the Covenant so they would not be worshiped as fetish objects. It is ironic that the Ark became one of history’s most powerful fetishes.
The Ark’s most significant power, I believe, was the accepted belief that the spirit within was a God for religion and war.

But truth be told, fetishes have been in existence since the birth of religion and they are harder to get rid of than the needle in a junkie’s arm.