Sanctification:  Restoring the Soul through the Word of God

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A well-worn Bible
We really stretched our spiritual muscles in our last exercise—Sanctification: Restoring the Soul through Prayeras we learned how the Holy Spirit teaches us to talk to our Heavenly Father through prayer, and how He uses those prayers to…

Make us One with the Father in His Person; and,
Make us One with the Father in His Purpose.

 Additionally, through these prayers He opens up an emotional “love-line” between God and us; creating a place where we are free to express our deepest feelings and concerns without censure; and where, as our spirits and hearts become united with God’s over time, we are able to absorb and share in the things which are nearest and dearest to His heart.

Prayer, however, isn’t the only tool that the Holy Spirit uses in the restoration of our souls; He also relies on the Word of God to instruct us on how to listen to God, and to discern His will.  In much the same way that the Spirit employs prayer to bring our hearts into one accord with the Father’s, He uses the Word to transform our minds from ones programmed for evil by the world, our flesh, and the devil, into ones which have been rewired for righteousness by God—that is, ones having been brought into alignment with the very mind of Christ. 

Mind Under Construction

Mind Under Construction

For some insight into this mind, we need look no further than Philippians 2:5-8, where the Spirit through the Apostle Paul admonishes us to…

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by being obedient, to the point of death, even death on the cross. 

This sort of humble, selfless mindset certainly doesn’t resemble the ones we brought with us into our new relationships with God; rather, ours was more like the one described in Ephesians 4:17-18…

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.  They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 

To put it another way, while they were in their unregenerate states…

…our minds served no useful purpose as far as God and His kingdom were concerned;
…our mind’s ability to grasp or comprehend the Truth of the Gospel was clouded over;
…our minds were estranged from and even hostile to God;
…our minds were uneducated or untaught in the ways of God; all because…
…our hearts were rigidly firm in their will and purpose, and not easily penetrated by the Truth of God’s Word…

 …conditions which were due to the fact that…

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). 

All of this changed, however, when we were Born Again and the Holy Spirit moved in with us, beginning the transformation of our once darkened minds into ones filled with the light and life of Christ—and, ones in complete agreement with the will and purpose of God our Father.  A change as radical as this, though, isn’t something that takes place very quickly or easily.  It can only be brought about as we, who were previously uneducated and untaught in the ways of God, begin to learn…

Who God really is;
What His purposes are for mankind;
What His plans are for the earth; and,
The means He uses to see that these plans and purposes are achieved. 

Since this kind of information is not and has never been available to the minds of natural men, in order for us to obtain it, we must trust the Holy Spirit for its provision; for, it is He who…

…searches everything, even the depths of God.  For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?

So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.  And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Holy Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual (1 Cor. 2:10-13).

And, it is these spiritual truths which He has made available to us is the Bible, the Spirit-inspired training manual on God and His Ways—and, the book also known to us as the Word of God.

Truth is


The Bible as the Word of God 

Although we often hear it spoken of as such, what do we really mean when we say that the Bible is the Word of God?  Well, in checking the dictionary for the meaning of the word “Word,” we find it formally defined as…

…a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning…[1]

…which is just a fancy way of saying that a word is the spoken or written representation of a person’s thoughts—a definition wholly consistent with the way it is used in John 1:1-4—where, the Word spoken of is a Person, who is none other than Jesus Christ

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

In this passage, the Greek term used for Word is logos which, roughly translated, means collected thought and wisdom and, in this case, refers to the collected thought and wisdom of God.  That is, in describing Jesus as the logos of God, John is saying that Jesus is the embodiment of the collected thought and wisdom of God, who was spoken into the world, not only during its creation and throughout all human history, but also in His Incarnation—something which he makes clear later in John 1:14, where he tells us that…

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

In essence, he is saying that everything God thought about truth, righteousness, holiness, love, compassion, humility, mercy, grace, integrity, strength, perseverance, selflessness, and so much more, was expressed to us in Jesus.  And, not only that, everything that God intended for mankind to be was manifested in the flesh for us by Jesus.  As the righteous and obedient Son who came to carry out His Father’s will on the earth, He was, is, and always will be the Divine Template for what a Child of God should be like; and, He will be the One against whom we will all be measured—that is, as we all…

…attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Eph. 4:13-15).

It is this Word, then—this collected thought and wisdom of God made visible to us in the Person of Jesus—that the Holy Spirit has scribed, or written down, in a book called the Bible.


What We Need to Know about the Bible

When we speak of the Bible, what we are actually referring to is the collection of books considered to be the sacred texts of both Judaism and Christianity.  The word itself comes from the Greek word biblia, the plural form of biblion, which is a diminutive of biblos—the word meaning book.  It got its name because books were originally made from byblos, or papyrus—the plant that was used to make parchment, or the material upon which books were written.  Byblos was also the name of the Phoenician city that exported papyrus to other parts of the ancient world.

The Jewish Bible, written mostly in Hebrew, came first and consisted of three parts:  the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.  Later, when the Christian Bible came into being, it was written in Greek, Latin, and Syriac, and contained the same books of the Hebrew Bible, only in a different order—and, with the books of the New Testament added to it.  In order to distinguish between the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures, the terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament” were introduced, and were in general usage by the end of the second century AD.  Although the Greek word for testament is usually translated as “will,” the Hebrew for it is translated as “covenant.”  Therefore, when we speak of the “Old” and “New” Testaments, what we are actually referring to are the covenants that God made with His people during each of these two eras.

Now, in order to add to our knowledge about and to enhance our study of the Bible, there are a few more things that we need to understand about it—the first being, it is unlike any other book that has ever been written.  It is unique in all of literature because it is the only trustworthy source of God’s words—and of His self-revelation to mankind—that exists in the world.  Actually, the Bible is not just one book but a collection of books—sixty-six, to be exact—that have been arranged in a systematic, progressive, and comprehensive way so that God’s revelation of Himself could be made known and understandable to any and all who chose to receive it.  Although it was transcribed by many men over the course of fifteen hundred years, men who employed a variety of genres and styles in its recording, it is remarkably consistent in its message, in its portrayal of the person and purposes of God, and in its honest representation of the nature and character of humanity.

The only way to explain such a consistency in its content over so great a period of time is to say that, in spite of its having so many human scribes, the Bible has only one author—and that author is God Himself.  Only the One who is able to declare that…

…I the Lord do not change… (Mal. 3:6), and …I am God, and there is none other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done (Is. 46: 9-10)…

…could be capable of accurately documenting a story which transcended the generations of the very ones who took part in recording it.  Through the means of divine inspiration, or through the intimate involvement of His Spirit, God made known His thoughts and words to a select group of men, and then He guided them in the ways in which those thoughts and words were to best be presented.  While each presentation reflected the personality of the man who was doing the writing, as well as the times during which he lived, the words were always God’s; words which repeatedly conveyed the timeless truths that every man and every generation should know.

Scribes at work on the Word

We learn more about this matter of inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16, where we are told that the Bible was…

… breathed out by God and [is] profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

This breathing out by God means that the words of the Bible were imparted directly by the Spirit of God, an impartation which made the Bible a living book imbued with power.  Hebrews 4:12 confirms this when it tells us that…

…the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

In other words, as a living book, the Word of God is able to penetrate our innermost beings in order to confront us with the truth about God and ourselves, and to convict us of our deviations from, or our rejections of, that truth.  As the only real source of truth in the world, the Bible, then, becomes the only trustworthy guidebook which man has for life.  Not only does it teach him how to live successfully—that is, to live like Jesus—in the here and now, it also instructs him on how he can obtain eternal life, or the life in the hereafter, which God has promised to give to those who will come to Him through faith in Jesus.

Since God’s purpose in authoring the Bible was to make Himself known to mankind, it would follow that He intended His Book to be for all people of all time, and that it was not something reserved for just Christians and Jews.  This would mean that everything in it would have application, at some point, for every person who has ever lived, and that its principles and truths would be so universal that they would be relevant to every age and every culture.  This would make it possible for even the most seemingly disparate people to be able to comprehend them; meaning that the peasants working in the rice patties of ancient China, the tribesmen hunting for heads in the jungles of Africa, twenty-first century penthouse dwellers, and kings and con men throughout each generation would all be able to learn the truth presented within its pages.

The Bible is about Jesus

Some of the other things about it that we need to know are…

The Bible is a multi-layered presentation of truth.  By that, I mean that it presents us with a number of important truths, on several different levels or dimensions, all at the same time.  Through the stories of real people, who are taking part in real life activities, at real times in human history, we not only learn important lessons that we can use in our everyday lives, we also learn about God’s prophetic or future plans for all of mankind, for the earth, and for His enemies, and learn about the person and character of God, as well.

The Bible is consistent in its method of teaching.  Throughout the Bible, the way in which God explains spiritual truths to us is by taking the things with which we are familiar and using them to teach us about those things which are beyond our comprehension—that is, He takes the things that we can see, which are temporal or earthly in nature, to explain those things that we cannot see, because they are spiritual and eternal in nature.  And, toward this end, He purposefully incorporated things in His creation which He could use for His divine illustrations.

The Bible is ALL about Jesus.  He is there at the very beginning, He is there at the very end, and He is there in every chapter and verse in between.  Throughout the Old Testament, He is seen covertly—that is, some aspect of His Person is hidden within the pictures or types that were created by the lives of the Old Testament characters; and, He is represented in each of the feasts and in the rituals of the Old Testament system of worship.  In the New Testament, though, He is seen overtly or openly, making His appearance in the flesh as the fulfillment of each of those Old Testament pictures or types—and, as the physical manifestation to us of the collective thought and wisdom of God!  And, it is through His application of this thought and wisdom, which permeates every page of the Bible, that the Holy Spirit is able to transform our minds from the carnal to the spiritual, to restore our souls to their original function as mediators, and to teach us how to…

…prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2).

Restoring the Mind and Emotions

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2Instead of our usual musical selection, and to add to our understanding of the Bible we have been talking about, here is the video, “The Bible:  The Story Behind the Story,”  which is also available for viewing in our Video Vault…

 

 

 

[1] word. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/word (accessed: June 04, 2016).

Happy Second Birthday!

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Happy 2nd Birthday, His Truth, My Voice!

Dear Friends,

This week, we are celebrating our Second Birthday at His Truth, My Voice!  In spite of the fact that this past year has been an unusually challenging one, I am praising God that we are still here on our Bible Study tour, and working our way through the Land of Revelation Knowledge.  Thanks to all of you who have continued to journey with us, along with a special thanks to my son, Alex, for his superior technical support, and a thank you to my husband, John, for all of his efforts at promoting this blog.

As part of this week-long celebration, I will be re-posting one of my favorite reflections each day on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; while on Wednesday,  I will replay my favorite teaching video, “The Bible:  The Story Behind the Story.”  I hope you will enjoy revisiting these as much as I will.

Please continue to stay with us as we travel on through the Word, and to hold us up in your prayers as we go.

With blessings to you all,
Judy

Between the Vignettes

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Pause1

Time to Pause for Analysis

We are here at Stage #1 of God’s One Big Story, where Vignette #1—The Creation of the World—has just been presented to us.  Now, while we wait for the curtain to go up on Vignette #2—The Creation of Man and Woman—let’s take advantage of this brief interval in the action to reflect on what we have learned thus far.

As you may recall, at the beginning of Vignette #1, we were instructed that the events about to take place were intended to do at least three things for us.  We were told that they would:

  • Teach us important Life Lessons, or principles which would help us live more Godly and fruitful lives here on the Earthly Stage of life;
  • Contribute something to the Story-behind-the-Story that would be taking place on the Heavenly Stage above us; and,
  • Provide us with treasures on an Eternal Level in the form of otherwise unobtainable Revelations of God.

With this in mind, then, as we reflect on the actions that have just taken place on the Earthly Stage, we will do so in keeping with these three different levels of application.

Life Lessons

Detective1

Searching for Life Lessons

Ordinarily, when looking for Life Lessons within the context of the Scriptures, we would be studying the actions of the earthly characters involved in the Story, for the purpose of identifying any principles of right living that could be applied to our own lives today.  However, because there were no human actors on the Stage in Vignette #1, let’s not take this to mean that there are no Life Lessons to be learned from this particular part of the Story.  In fact, there are several important Life Lessons that can be learned here—and nowhere else; lessons such as:

  • Time, space, and matter all originated with God, and are limited by the boundaries imposed upon them by Him; indicating that just as there was a beginning, there will also be an ending. This would also mean that because God is “bigger” than any of these things, He remains in complete control of all of them at all times;
  • All forms of life were the creative handiwork of God. While separated by Him into distinctive groups that were then ordered in increasing levels of complexity, they were also designed to be interdependent in much the same way that a body was designed to be; meaning that when something happened to one area of creation, the others areas would also be affected by it;
  • Light is the prerequisite for Life, the source of that Light is the Word of God, and because “…God is light and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5), God alone must be the source of all Life;
  • Life would be marked and measured by Seasons, during which all of God’s Creation would be expected to bear Fruit; and,
  • Just as He had judged His own work at the end of each Day to assess its value, when Life’s Seasons were over, God would also judge the Fruit produced by His creation during those times to determine its value.

From these few but important lessons, we can know for certain that:

  • God had a purpose in creating the world, and it was not the result of some random cosmic collision;
  • Every part of God’s creation was designed to fulfill a specific purpose and, because everything was designed to reproduce “after its own kind,” no one part of or creature in it “evolved” from one thing to become another thing through an eons-long “survival of the fittest” contest;
  • The same Word which spoke Light and Life into the natural world then will also be our source of spiritual life and enlightenment now;
  • Seasonal change is a necessary part of growth, maturity, and productivity; and,
  • The same One who separated, divided, and judged things at the beginning of time will also be the One who separates, divides, and judges all things at the end of time.

Contributions to the Heavenly Story

Given the awe-inspiring events that we have just witnessed, it would be easy for us to become so engrossed in them that we fail to recognize the part that these events play in the One Big Story that the Bible has to tell.  Additionally, when we consider the fact that this Big Story is one that had its origins in Heaven—meaning that it is one that must be spiritually, rather than physically, discerned—it becomes all the more difficult for us to see how events taking place in the one realm could possibly impact the Story taking place in another.  And yet, if we strive to keep in mind God’s motive for creating the world, the contributions that the creation events make to the One Big Story will become much clearer to us.

As for the reason behind God’s creation of the world, this was spelled out for us in the video, “The Bible:  The Story Behind the Story.”   It was there that we learned of God’s desire and determination to have a family of His own to love; a desire and determination which would lead him to create a race of beings—human beings—so much like Himself that they could eventually be adopted into His family.

Before these beings could be created, however, there would first have to be a place to put them.  This, then, is what we see God doing in Vignette #1; He is creating the ideal home for His future family.  In doing this, not only is He creating the physical, material place where they will live, He is also setting up the Earthly Stage upon which all of their future human drama will unfold.  Likewise, in His establishment of the heavens, He is actually erecting the Heavenly Stage where His Story of Redemptive Love will be acted out for all creatures, in all ages, to see.  Finally, in His placement of the boundaries upon time, He is really putting bookends into place that will mark off the beginning and the ending of His One Big Story.

Revelations of God

When it comes to looking for how God reveals Himself in this, or in any other, part of our Story, there are four things that we need to take into consideration:

The names God uses to identify Himself…

gods-names

The Names of God

As we have already learned, the name by which God was identified in Vignette #1 was Elohim—the plural form of El, a word used throughout Scripture as a designation for “god,” and one derived from the Hebrew root meaning “might, strength, and power.” It describes a God who is the Sovereign Creator of the universe; and, as the plural subject of the singular form of the verb create, it reveals to us that the Godhead is made up of more than one Person, acting in unison to accomplish His purposes. 

The things God does…

Based upon what we experienced in Vignette #1, we now know that God is, that God is Everywhere, that God is All-Powerful, that God is All-Knowing, that God is a Moral Being as well as a Judge, and, that God is Triune in His Person—or, in other words, He is God, He is the Word, and He is the Spirit.  And, based upon what He did, we also know that He creates from nothing, He speaks and His Word is powerful, He sees or evaluates everything He makes,  He has authority to name, He orders, organizes, and controls everything—even the darkness and chaos, and He blesses.

The ways that God relates to His creation…

In this first segment of our Story, the way that we find God relating to His creation is as the transcendent, or over-and-above-it-all, God of Creation.  As the Divine Designer, He is busily engaged in every aspect of His creative work, making sure that even the smallest detail of His plan is carried out meticulously; and, at every stage of it completion, He expresses approval and delight with what He has accomplished.

The things that God says about Himself…

While God, on occasion, will reveal things about Himself through His own verbal descriptions, in this instance, God has absolutely nothing to say about Himself; all of His Words are reserved for the purposes of accomplishing His work on the earth, and then blessing the work that He has done.

Although we have learned quite a lot about God already, these revelations are but a preview of the God we will come to know more deeply and meaningfully as our Story progresses.  When we move on to Vignette #2 and the Creation of Man and Woman, we will get to see a completely different part of His nature, as He becomes intimately involved with those considered to be the “Crown of His Creation.”  That part of our Story is just about to begin, so get situated in your seats…the lights are going down once more.

Theatre seats

It’s OK to get comfortable, just not this comfy!

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2

 

Please enjoy this musical reflection on the Names of God…

 

 

 

 

 

…Where It Is Showtime for God’s One Big Story!

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Our journey to the Land of Revelation Knowledge has brought us here, to Stage #1, where Vignette #1: The Creation of the World is about to begin.  As the action of God’s One Big Story starts to unfold, we need to keep in mind that the events we will be witnessing here have been designed to serve more than one purpose.  Not only will they be teaching us important Life Lessons through the actions of the characters on the Earthly Stage before us, they will also be contributing to the story-behind-the-story taking place simultaneously on the Heavenly Stage above us.  More importantly, though, they will be providing us with priceless clues or insights into the very Person and Nature of God.  Now, with that being said, it is finally “Showtime” here at Stage #1—where it is time for our Earthly Story to get under way!

Showtime for God's One Big Story

It’s Showtime for God’s One Big Story

 

As the curtains open on the first part of our Story, we find ourselves viewing a stage that is completely and eerily dark. Not only is the stage shrouded in darkness, so is the rest of the theatre; a situation which gives rise  to several minutes of uneasiness for us as we wait anxiously for something to happen.  Suddenly, the blinding darkness, along with its accompanying deafening silence, is shattered by the sound of the deep, resonant Voice of an off-stage Narrator uttering Ten of the most powerful, revealing, and important Words ever spoken…

…In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

In the beginning...2

Time, Space, and Matter all Come Into Being at the Word of God

With these Ten Words, God—identified here as Elohim, the God who is Plural in Person but Singular in Purpose—steps out of eternity to create what will become the Stage for all Human History.  Offering no explanation for who He is or where He came from, He immediately begins to demonstrate His Presence, His Power, His Wisdom, and His Sovereignty by laying out Time, intersecting it with Space, and then creating Matter, all out of nothing! 

While these telling Words are still reverberating throughout our darkened theatre, our attention is suddenly captured by the roar of a mighty wind.  We soon learn that this wind is none other than the Spirit of God Himself, hovering over, stirring up, and activating waters that are still invisible to us due to the all-pervasive darkness.  In His hovering, we somehow sense that the Spirit is poised, prepared, and waiting with anticipation for that which He knows is just about to occur.

Then, like the sound of a million thunder claps, we hear the Voice of God speaking forth the first of another set of Ten WordsHis Ten Words of Creation, which begin with…

…Let there be light!   

001-creation2

“Let there be light…”

And, because “…the unfolding of [His] words gives light (Ps. 119:130),” light does appear; light that is diffused throughout the Stage, revealing what can only be described as a massive, formless, and useless watery Deep. 

We soon learn, though, that merely bringing Light into existence isn’t the only work that God intends to do; for as soon as He has spoken it onto the Stage, He proceeds to:

  • See or assess it—that is, He makes a moral judgment of it by declaring it to be good;
  • Separate it from the darkness—making a division or distinction between the two entities;
  • Demonstrate His authority over it by naming it Day, and the darkness Night; and,
  • Establish it, and the darkness, as fixed measures of time—or, as the Morning and Evening that will, throughout all of time, constitute one Day.

As the First Day of Creation comes to a close, the Stage we are looking upon is still a place of chaos and confusion; however, the Darkness is now contained and we have enough Light to see the Works of God that are yet to come.  Although we still cannot see Him, because of what He has done, we now know that God is, that God is Everywhere, that God is All-Powerful, that God is All-Knowing, that God is a Moral Being as well as a Judge, and, that God is Triune in His Person—or, in other words, He is God, He is the Word, and He is the Spirit—all of which is quite a lot for us to have learned in so short a period of time.

As the darkness of the First Evening passes and the light of the Second Day takes its place, God resumes the work that He began on Day One.  Because there is still a massive, formless, and aqueous Deep occupying our Stage, He begins by transforming it into something more productive through the pronouncement of His Second Word of Creation… 

…Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. 

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“Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters…”

At once, we see the waters part as an expanse or a firmament—otherwise known as an atmosphere or sky—is inserted in between them; an act creating a vapor canopy above the expanse, while leaving the waters beneath it in their original amorphous state.  After God’s designation of this expanse as Heaven, the work of Day Two comes to an end and its Evening begins.

Because the reformation of the primordial waters is still only half complete, as the Third Day of Creation commences, God begins transforming the waters remaining beneath the Heavens.  Once again, He does this through the power of His Word—His Third Word of Creation… 

…Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together in one place  and let the dry land appear. 

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“Let the dry land appear…”

In obedience to this command, the waters immediately begin to come together, while a mass of dry ground rises up and out from among them.  Again, God separates and divides, assesses what He has done and declares it to be good, and again, exercises His authority as Creator by naming the dry land Earth, and the waters Seas. 

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“Let the earth bring forth vegetation…”

Although the formation of the Seas and the Earth has been quite an undertaking, the work of this Day is by no means over; for, no sooner than the Earth is given its name, God speaks His Fourth Word of Creation when He commands it to produce vegetation in the form of plants, shrubs, and trees; the first of the living things to come forth from the Earth, containing seeds within themselves that will enable each of them to reproduce “after its own kind.”  This design principle is so important that it is repeated eleven times throughout the remainder of the Creation Story; not only establishing the basic physical law of reproduction for everything in God’s material creation, but also becoming a picture to us of God’s spiritual law of reproduction, as it is later spelled out for us in Galatians 6:7-8:

Do not be deceived:  God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the spirit reap eternal life.

At this, Day Three comes to a close, and as it does, we need to pause for a moment to consider what God has accomplished so far.  He has, through the giving of His Word and the empowerment by His Spirit…

  • Brought Light into a world of Darkness, and created Realms or Kingdoms of Light and Darkness by making a division or separation between the two;
  • Divided and refashioned the chaotic primordial waters into the two distinct Realms or Kingdoms of the Sky and the Sea; and,
  • Separated the dry land from the remaining waters, thus creating the Realm or Kingdom of the Earth—then filling it with the vegetation that will later be used for food.

In other words, from nothing, He has progressively and systematically created realms of existence within the natural world that are now standing in the need of their Rulers. 

In response to this need, and with the arrival of Day 4, God sets about the task of making Lights to rule over the kingdoms of the Day and Night by speaking His Fifth Word of Creation…

007-creation2

“Let there be lights…to separate the day from the night…”

…Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night.   And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.  And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night.  And God set them in the expanse of the heavens…And God saw that it was good. 

At the end of Day 4, and having received their Rulers, the Kingdoms of the Day and Night are now complete.  However, because the two remaining kingdoms are still without their designated lords, as Day 5 begins, God proceeds to remedy that situation as He speaks His Sixth Word of Creation…

…Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens. 

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“Let the waters swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth…”

Once this Word goes forth, God Himself begins creating the very things that He has just called into being—that is, every form of fish and fowl, according to its kind, that will rule over the seas and the skies.  Upon His completion of this task, and following His assessment of His work to be good, God then goes one step further, by speaking a Seventh Word of Creation, a Blessing upon all of those things that He has just created…

…Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the Earth.

And, with the Rulers of the Seas and the Skies so blessed, the Fifth Day of Creation comes to a close.

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“Let the earth bring forth living creatures…”

Since the Earth still in need of its Rulers, at the onset of Day Six, God speaks yet another Word of Creation—His Eighth—saying…

…Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds. 

As this Word is still echoing throughout the atmosphere, God begins fashioning the Creatures that will soon be making the Earth their home.  Like all of the other things that He has so recently brought into existence, each of these Creatures is designed to reproduce “after its own kind”—and to Rule over its respective sphere on the Earth.  Once again, when He is finished, God pronounces this work to be good.

At this point in the production, as we sit awestruck and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the sights, sounds, and changes that have taken place on the Stage before us, it is hard for us to imagine that God could or would do anything more spectacular, or add anything more significant, to that which has already been done.  And yet, as we very quickly learn, He has more work—a special work—planned for this, the Sixth Day of Creation.

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“X” Marks the Spot

We get our first indication of this when a spotlight suddenly begins to shine on the Stage from overhead, focusing on what seems to us to be a rather non-descript plot of land.  Once our gaze has been directed to this particular patch of ground, we hear the Voice of God again as He speaks His Ninth Word of Creation…

…Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.

At this pronouncement, we all move to the edges of our seats, where we wait expectantly with wonder and excitement for the unveiling of this new work by God;  instead, we are stunned to see the curtain suddenly drawn across the Stage.  Although we can see nothing, we hear once more—amid all the gasps and groans of disappointment from the audience—the Voice of the Narrator, as he boldly yet reverently proclaims…

…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 

Then, immediately after this, we hear the Voice of God speaking His Tenth and Final Word of Creation, in the form of another Blessing, saying…

…Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

At this, all sounds cease to emanate from the Stage, the lights in the theatre go up, and we begin to realize that Vignette #1 is now over; and that this—the most important part of God’s Creation Story—will have to wait until the start of Vignette #2.  As disappointed as we are by what seems to be an unnecessary delay in the telling of the Story, this time between Vignettes will actually provide us with some much-needed time to reflect on all that we have experienced and learned so far.

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As we prepare to do that though, let’s first join with Carman in rejoicing that “There is a God”…

 

 

Creation images courtesy of http://freebibleimages.org.

Here at Last, at Stage #1…

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At Stage 1

Here at Last, at Stage #1

Well, we have finally arrived at Stage #1—the place where the Bible:  the Love Story of the Ages will soon begin to unfold before us.  As we depart from the Truth Train, let’s be sure to carry with us the Program Guides that we were given on the most recent leg of our journey.  We will find that, as we watch the many smaller stories of the Bible being acted out on the Earthly Stage before us, these Guides will help us make sense of the One Big Story which will be taking place simultaneously on the Heavenly Stage above us.  So, please find a good seat and make yourselves as comfortable as possible, because it is likely that we will remain at this stage for some time.  That’s because the portion of the Bible Story which will be covered here is one of the most important ones of the entire production—so we dare not hurry through it.

As we learned in the video, “The Bible:  the Story Behind the Story,” Act 1 is all about the Love Story that takes place between God and Israel; a Story with its beginnings in eternity past, when God, who is Love, purposed to have a family of His own to love.  It was for this purpose that He created the world and the people living in it—people who, as they continued to multiply, would eventually develop into the nations from which Israel, God’s intended wife, would come.  When Act 1 opens, however, Israel doesn’t even exist yet, so it stands to reason that everything which takes place in its opening scene will be for the purpose of bringing her onto the center stage of this very human yet cosmic drama.

Here, then, is a summary of what we will find taking place in Act 1, Scene 1where we will be introduced to God, in His role as the Celestial Suitor: 

In this opening scene, we will witness God’s creation of a world full of nations out of nothing.  It will be from these nations that He will eventually choose one, Israel, for His own—to be His “wife.”  The process by which this takes place is illustrated for us through the use of 9 Vignettes, or mini-stories, in which the most significant parts are acted out for us.  These vignettes will cover:

1 – The creation of the world;
2 – The creation of man and woman;
3 – Their sin and fall from grace;
      The consequences of their sin:
4 – Personally,
5 – In their family, and
6 – In society at large;
7 – The judgment on their sin during the Flood;
8 – The “New” World after the Flood; and,
9 – Mankind’s On-Going Rebellion and its Judgment. 

As Vignette #9 ends, and as we look forward to the beginning of Act 1, Scene 2 and the entrance of Abram/Abraham onto the stage of our Story, we will also be introduced to another character—a very elusive, oftentimes invisible one—who will play a very significant part throughout the remainder of the Story.  Her name is Mystery Babylon, and she is the corporate embodiment of the false religious system that will be established at Babel, and which will eventually become dispersed among the newly formed nations.  To be identified later on as “the great prostitute and the mother of all of earth’s abominations (Rev. 17:5),” Mystery Babylon’s role in the story will be that of the consort of Satan, God’s enemy; and, as his companion, she will be one of his most effective enticements for pulling people away from a relationship with the One True God. 

Open Bible

Be Sure to Keep Your Bible Handy

Of course, in order for us to get the most out of this Story, we will need to keep our Bibles handy at all times; that way, we can first read through the passages that will be covered in each upcoming Vignette; and then, we will be able to refer back to them if or when we get to any points in the Story that we may not understand.

One of the best ways that I have found to understand—or, to “navigate” through—Genesis 1-11—is just to “surf” it.  Now “Surfing Genesis” may seem like a rather crazy concept to apply to Bible study, but I think that you will find it is one that works, plus it is really easy to understand.  You see, in much the same way that we would “surf the web” for information—first going to a website and then clicking on one “link” after another, until we finally get to the information we are looking for—as we begin our study of Genesis, we will go to the first “site” of its action, that is, to Chapter 1, and look for the most important piece of information contained there.  This information, in verse form, will then become the “link” which will carry us to the action awaiting us in next chapter.

Surfing Geneses

Surfing Genesis is Like Surfing the Web

 

In other words: 

In Chapter 1————if we click on the creation of man, mentioned in verse 27, it will become the link that connects us to an expanded explanation of that event, taking place in Chapter 2.

In Chapter 2————if we click on the prohibition pronounced in verses 16-17, and the “one flesh” mentioned in verses 23-24, these will become links to the action that is about to happen in Chapter 3.

In Chapter 3————if we click on the promise of a redeemer mentioned in verse 15, and the animal skins and sacrifice for sins mentioned in verse 21, these will link us to the significant events coming up in Chapter 4.

In Chapter 4————if we click on the birth of Seth mentioned in verse 25, and go back to Chapter 2, verse 17, where we find the promise of death, these will provide us with the links we need to take us to Chapter 5.

In Chapter 5————if we click on Noah’s birth mentioned in verses 28-29, this will link us to the events coming up in Chapter 6.

In Chapter 6————if we click on God’s grace to Noah mentioned in verse 8, and the corruption of the earth mentioned in verses 11-12, these will be our links to Chapter 7.

In Chapter 7————if we click on the remnant alive in the ark mentioned in verse 23, this will become our link to Chapter 8.

In Chapter 8————if we click on God’s covenant with creation mentioned in verses 20-22, this will take us to Chapter 9.

In Chapter 9————if we click on the sons of Noah mentioned in verses 18-19, these will link us to Chapter 10.

In Chapter 10———-if we click on the descendants of Noah mentioned in verse 32, this will provide the connecting link to Chapter 11.  And…

In Chapter 11———-if we click on Terah and Abram mentioned in verses 31-32, these will become our links to Chapter 12. 

Now that we know a little about what to expect, and how to follow the line of connection between each of the chapters covered in the upcoming Vignettes, let’s prepare ourselves by opening our Bibles and reading Genesis 1 – Genesis 2:3.  We need to ready ourselves because the lights are starting to go down, while the orchestra is starting to tune up—meaning that it is finally time for the curtain to rise on our Story!

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2This little video will provide us with a good review of what we have learned so far, as well as a good preview of what is coming up next—so please take a few minutes to view it.

 

 

Let’s Recap, Rethink, Replace–and Then, Resume

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Well, our somewhat extended stopover at the Welcome Center of the Word will soon be coming to an end.  However, before we get back on board the Truth Train and depart for the next stop on our Rocking and Rolling Tour through the Bible, I think it would be helpful for us to pause for a few minutes so that we can…

  • Recap—or review where we have been and what we have learned so far;
  • Rethink—that is, reconsider some of the traditional approaches to Bible study that we have used in the past; and,
  • Replace—the approaches which tend to confuse us, with ones that will provide us with some measure of clarity.

So, first…

Let's Recap

Before beginning this trip, one of the first things that we did was to plan our itinerary, or the step-by-step process by which we intended to arrive at our destination.  At the time, we identified our ultimate destination as:

  • Learning who God is and how He reveals Himself to us; and,
  • Learning who we are and the destiny for which we have been created.

With that in mind, we then planned for stops at:

Having accomplished what we had intended to do at each of these three stops, it is now time for us to move on to the fourth stop on our itinerary, which is, the study of the Word of God itself.

But before we do that, though…

Let's RethinkIn order for us to be better prepared for our next stop, we must rethink some of the approaches to Bible study that we have taken in the past.  I don’t know about you but, in my experience, Bible study is something that has seldom been undertaken in any organized or systematic way. It has been my observation that when people come to know the Lord and begin to study the Bible, the first thing piece of advice that they are given is to read the Gospel of John.  Granted, the Gospel of John is a wonderful book, presenting Jesus Christ as the Son of God to the Church—but where are they supposed to go after that?  Do they have any idea where the book fits into the overall scheme of the Bible, or what part it plays in God’s big story of redemption?

If not, it is quite likely that these new believers will jump around for a little while in the New Testament, then they will head over to the Psalms or Proverbs for a bit, before deciding to do something really ambitious—like reading the entire Bible, straight through from Genesis to Revelation.  Unfortunately, and yet invariably, by the time they reach the middle of Exodus or the beginning of the book of Leviticus, all of the ambition and dedication they once possessed will suddenly disappear, as their reading begins to bog down under the weight of the tabernacle’s construction and the giving of the Old Testament laws.  Once this happens, and because they are still unsure of where to go next, they will usually end up back in the New Testament where, more often than not, they will engage in a lot more directionless study.  But so much of this confusion and wasted time can be avoided—that is, if someone would only provide these new students with an understandable and a systematic approach to their study of the Bible.

To do that…

Let's ReplaceInstead of the traditional approaches that we may have used in the past, such as…

  • Opening the Bible and letting the pages fall where they will, and then reading the verses which seem to jump out at us on the page; or,
  • Merely picking passages at random and hoping to get some sort of contextual meaning from them; or,
  • Making a daily devotional book, with its topical study, the primary means of Bible study;

We will begin our study of the Word by focusing in on the Big Picture of the Bible, something which will be made clear to us once…

  • We identify the “One Big Story” that the Bible has to tell;
  • We break down that story into manageable parts and then show how all of these parts contribute to the story;
  • We analyze each of these parts–looking for the life lessons that can be learned from them, the prophetic clues or messages that are enclosed or hidden within them, and any new insights into the character of God, and His purposes and plans for mankind and the earth that may be revealed in through them.

The replacement process that I am describing here will be much easier for us to understand once we have viewed the instructional video which is waiting for us in the Welcome Center’s Theatre.  It is just up ahead, on the right, just before the exit door that will lead us from the Center.  This video will provide us with an introduction to the approach that we will be taking on the remainder of our trip through the Land of Revelation Knowledge; an approach which will present the Bible in the form of a story, and one which will present that story in the format of a theatrical play.  Now, then, it is time for us to make our way into the theatre, and to make ourselves comfortable, while we watch, “The Bible:  The Story Behind the Story.”

Once the viewing is over, please leave through the previously designated exit, and then make your way back to the train, where we will once again Resume our journey.

Lights, please…

 

 

 

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