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).

Thursday’s Gift…

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Thursday’s Gift in celebration of His Truth, My Voice’s second birthday is a return visit to…

“Mapping Out the Land of Revelation Knowledge.”

Map and compass

Some Map Making Tools

Now that we have unloaded as much baggage as we can bear to part with at the present time, let’s leave Booth #2 behind and make our way on over to Booth #3—still here at the  Welcome Center of the Word—where we will find maps of the land we are preparing to visit.  As will any map for any traveler venturing into any new territory, these maps will prove to be great aids to us as we continue on our journey through the World of the Word. That’s because, through their clear delineation of boundaries, we will be able to determine the extent of, or the limitations imposed upon, the knowledge that will actually be made available to us on this visit to the land of the Bible.

The need for such limitations will become obvious to us once we stop to consider the entire scope of existence presented to us within the context of the Bible.  That is, if we take into account all of the activity that has taken and will take place from eternity past to eternity future, as well as all of the activity that has occurred throughout the various realms of existence—from the deepest depths in the underworld to the highest reaches of the heavenly places—it shouldn’t be difficult for us to see that the overall knowledge produced as a result of all of this activity would be so staggering that, when given the limits imposed upon us by our finite minds and fallen natures, it would be way beyond our abilities to take it all in.

Fortunately for us, though—and because He is so keenly aware of the frailties imposed upon us by our humanity—when God crafted His plans for the Bible, He very wisely and graciously chose to limit the  knowledge that would be presented in it to the revelation of Himself and of His redemptive purposes for mankind.  And, as for how this knowledge was to be revealed to us, once again, God very wisely and graciously chose not to hit us with it all at once, but to present it incrementally, through the gradual and progressive unfolding of it over time.  Since God considered this revelation knowledge to be important enough to make it the message of His Word, then it stands to reason that the acquisition of this knowledge must be the primary goal of this and every other trip through this land.

As far as we are concerned, then, the Bible will be regarded as the Land of Revelation Knowledge; a vast and often challenging land through which to travel, and yet a land that is filled with the richest of all treasures, just waiting to be discovered by us—the Revelation Knowledge of God.  Before we can venture any further into its heartland, though, we will need to pause for a brief but careful study of its map.  This map, through its outline of the borders which have been fixed upon God’s Revelation Knowledge, will help us determine just how far we can travel in any direction.  Even a quick glance at the map will let us know that:

  • To the North, we will only be able to go as far as the Purposes of God have ordained;
  • To the East, we will only be able to go as far as our Positions in Christ empower us;
  • To the South, we can only go as far as our Personal Purity will permit; and,
  • To the West, we can only go as far as our Passionate Pursuit of the Knowledge of God will take us.

Here, then, is a section by section breakdown of this map.

Our Northern Border—The Purposes of God 

Compass and Map

True North Must Be Determined First

When beginning an analysis of any map, the most logical place to start is in the north.  That’s because, before any real mapping of an area can be undertaken, its position relative to “true north” must be established; then, once that has been done, each of the other directions will naturally fall into place.  Our “true north” is none other than God Himself, and upon our recognition of Him as such, we will discover that the northern border of the Land of Revelation Knowledge has been laid out nicely in accordance with His redemptive purposes for man.  These purposes have been spelled out quite clearly for us in Ephesians 1:3-11:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who…chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…In him, we have redemption through his blood…according to his purpose…In him, we have obtained an inheritance…according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.  

From this brief passage, it should be easy enough for us to see that:

  1. God had a purpose in our creation—that is, before the foundation of the earth, God’s purpose was to have a family, and it was for this purpose that we were created;
  2. God had a purpose in our redemption—that is, in order for us to be adopted His sons and daughters, we would first have to be redeemed—or “bought back” from our lives of slavery to sin—by the blood sacrifice of Christ on the Cross; and,
  3. God had a purpose in our glorification—that is, once redeemed, and for His glory, we would become the children of God, and the heirs of all His riches, just like Jesus.

And, it was through these purposes that the orientation for the rest of our map has been determined.

Our Eastern Border—Our Positions in Christ 

Eastern ArrowWith our northern border thus established by the redemptive purposes of God, our eastern border immediately becomes visible by its provision of the gateway to redemption that was called for by those very same purposes of God. This gateway is the salvation that was made available to us by Christ’s death on the Cross, and it is this doorway that we must enter by faith, if we are to move into our new positions as the sons and daughters of God.

However, just moving into these positions is not the “be-all and end-all” of God’s purposes for us.  That’s because, at this point in the process, our mindsets, characters, and behaviors are still those of children born originally as slaves to sin.  Since God’s purposes also call for us to be transformed from these sin-saturated children into the sanctified children of God, it is here that that a Helper—the Holy Spirit of God Himselfcomes along side of us and becomes our tutor—teaching us how to think, speak, and act like children of God—and the source of divine power that we will need if we are to overcome the power of sin in our lives.

In John 14:15-16 and John 16:8, 13-14, Jesus gives us some insights into the work of this wonderful Helper when He says:

If you love me and keep my commandments, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive…And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but …He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.   

And, as a result of His faithful ministry on our behalf, we will learn what it means to…

“…walk by the Spirit, and [you will] not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Gal. 5:16-17” 

Our Southern Border—Our Personal Purity 

Southern ArrowThis work of empowerment by the Holy Spirit—made available to us through our positions in Christ—and our successful appropriation of this power is what now leads us to the identification of our Southern Border;  for, this is the border that is formed as a result of, or in response to, the level of Personal Purity that we choose to maintain in our lives.

In Ephesians 4:30, we are told, “…do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption,” and, in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.”  You see, if and when we tolerate sin in our lives, we will actually be grieving, or hurting the heart of the Holy Spirit who is living within us, and quenching, or extinguishing through our disobedience and questionable practices, the work that the Spirit desires to do through us.  Once that happens, our minds will become darkened and unreceptive to the Revelation Knowledge that God desires to share with us.

According to Colossians 3:1-10, as the sons and daughters of God who should be growing in the Revelation Knowledge of their Father, we are to:

…seek the things that are above…set your minds on things that are above, not on things which are on the earth…put to death what is earthly in you:  sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  On account of these things, the wrath of God is coming.  In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you must put them all away:  anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.  You have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Our Western Border—Our Passionate Pursuit of the Knowledge of God 

So far in this little map study, we have learned that:

  • The Northern Border of the Land of Revelation Knowledge has been fixed in accordance with the Purposes of God;
  • The Eastern Border has been fixed in accordance with the Positions in Christ provided for us by His redemption; and,
  • The Southern Border has been fixed in accordance with the degree of Personal Purity that we maintain in our lives through the Ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Western ArrowThis, then, leaves us with one border—the Western one—that remains to be defined.  But this is a hard thing for us to do right now because, unlike the other three borders–which were firmly fixed and are constantly being monitored by God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit–this fourth border is one which we will have to define for ourselves.  That’s because, this border will be determined by our Passionate Pursuit of the Revelation Knowledge of God, demonstrated through a dedicated and disciplined study of His Word.  In other words, the limitations created for this border will be directly proportional to the hunger we have in our hearts for the knowledge revealed in God’s Word, and to our diligent efforts to obtain it.

This principle is clearly set forth for us in Proverbs 2: 3-6 and 9-10, where we read:

…If you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God… for the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding…then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

So, given that the definition of this Western Border is entirely up to us, let’s make a commitment here and now to extend it as far west as we possibly can—by dedicating ourselves to seek as much Revelation Knowledge as possible during our upcoming tour through the Bible.

Smiley Face with Earphones2
As we begin to make our way through the Land of Revelation Knowledge, let’s do so with this prayer, as offered by Steve Green in “Oh, I Want to Know You More…”

 

 

 

Vignette #5: Our Lineup to the Flood

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Genesis 1-4: The Story So Far

A Review of Our Story So Far…

Now that we have completed our critique of the story of Cain and Abel, it is time for us to move on to the next Vignette, or mini-story, in our presentation of “God’s One Big Story.”  In order to put things into perspective, and as a benefit to those who may be new to our group, I think it is a good idea to do a brief recap of our story so far.

Here at His Truth, My Voice, we are currently undertaking a guided tour of the Bible, a tour which we have been referring to as “The Journey into the Land of Revelation Knowledge.”  We have named it this because, in going deeper into the Word of God, we will be traveling to places where the priceless revelations of who God is, who we are, and the parts we are to play in His wonderful Love Story of Redemption will be made known to us.

In order to aid us in our understanding of this Story, it is being presented to us in the form of a Play, consisting of Two Acts, each containing Six Scenes, which are separated by one long Intermission.  The Scenes and Intermission are being acted out on a series of Fourteen Stages and, at present, we are at Stage #1 where Vignette #5 of Act 1, Scene 1 is about to get underway.

In Scene 1, we have been introduced to God in His role as “The Celestial Suitor”—the Supreme Being whose ultimate goal is to have a spiritual family to love for all eternity.  Since a family is naturally made up of a Husband and a Wife who have children, in this scene (covering the first eleven chapters of Genesis), God will create the world of nations, from which He will choose one—Israel—to be His Wife.  It will be through His relationship with her that His Son will eventually be born into the world; and, it will be through His Son that God will one day obtain the family He has always desired.  Thus far, this is what God has done toward the realization of His goal:

  • In Vignette #2/ Genesis 2He created Man and Woman to bear His image on the earth, and to multiply and fill the earth with that image of His glory. He also made them overseers of His creation, and charged them not to do one thing—eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
  • In Vignette #3/ Genesis 3…He allowed a malevolent spirit named Satan, who appeared in the form of a serpent, to test the first couple’s obedience to His will. In the serpent’s temptation, Adam and Even were presented with the only two real options in life—either to do things God’s way and live, or to go their own way and die.  When Adam and Eve chose the latter, sin, disease, and death passed upon them and all of their descendants.  But, when their sin resulted in their separation from God, He graciously showed them that their relationship with Him could be restored if their sins were atoned for through the blood sacrifice of an innocent substitute.
  • In Vignette #4/ Genesis 4…When the time came for Adam and Eve’s sons to offer their own sacrifices to God, on one such occasion, Abel’s offering was accepted while Cain’s was rejected. This made Cain so angry that he murdered his brother.  Then, when he refused to acknowledge and repent of this sin, God’s judgment led him to separate himself from God, and enter into a life of wandering.  God later provided Adam and Eve with another son, Seth, to take Abel’s place; and with his arrival, we see a division of humanity into two distinct groups beginning to take place—with Cain heading up the line of the wicked, and Seth at the head of those in the righteous line.  At the end of this Vignette/Chapter, and in keeping with the scriptural practice of identifying the members of the rejected line first, we were given the genealogy of Cain—an incorrigible line that would ultimately succeed in corrupting society, and one which would eventually end in the Flood.

This brings us up to date in our Story, and to Vignette #5, which covers the material contained in Chapter 5 of Genesis.  While there are many who would consider this to be one of the most boring chapters in the Bible, I hope to show you that there are some important things to be gleaned from its rather repetitious presentation of information.

Now Playing

Now Playing…

With that being said, the time has come for the next installment of our Story to begin—and for the lights in the theatre to dim and the curtains to part once more.  As they do, we find ourselves looking upon a Stage that is pretty much in the same state as when Vignette #4 ended.  The major difference is that Cain and his line of descendants have moved from the front of the stage to the back, forming a line across the rear of the stage.  The spotlight, which was previously on our right, has moved to our left, and is once more focusing on Adam, as we hear our off-stage Narrator begin his recitation with…

This is the book of the generations of Adam.  When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.  Male and female he created them, and blessed them and named them Man when they were created.  When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image and named him Seth.

Biblical Characters

Seth

Biblical Character

Adam

At this, we see Seth walk across the stage and stand next to his father.  As the spotlight moves to highlight him, we hear the Narrator speak again, saying…

The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years, and he had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. 

This scene is then repeated five more times, with only the names and years being changed, and with our Narrator continuing in his very formulaic fashion…

When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh.  Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died.

Biblical Character

Kenan

Biblical Character

Enosh

When Enosh had lived 90 years, he fathered Kenan.  Enosh lived after he fathered Kenan 815 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 days, and he died.

When Kenan had lived 70 years, he fathered Mahalalel.  Kenan lived after he fathered Mahalalel 840 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died.

Biblical Character

Mahalalel

Biblical Character

Jared

When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he fathered Jared.  Mahalalel lived after he fathered Jared 830 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died.

When Jared had lived 162 years, he fathered Enoch.  Jared lived after he fathered Enoch 800 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died. 

Up to this point, everything has been going along monotonously well, but it is here—at the seventh generation from Adam—that we find something unusual taking place.  Our Narrator explains this, using the most economical description possible, by saying…

Biblical Character

Enoch

Biblical Character

Methuselah

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah.  Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years.  Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. 

In other words, unlike his predecessors, Enoch did not die but was translated out of his earthly realm of existence and into the heavenly realm of existence with God!  Then, without offering us any more to go on, and just as though this revelation was of little or no consequence, our Narrator once again resumes his narration with…

When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered Lamech.  Methuselah lived after he fathered Lamech 782 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.

But, just as he seems to be falling back into the same droning pattern of…

When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah… 

…and the spotlight comes to rest on Lamech, we are surprised to hear a sudden outburst from him, as he makes this prophetic statement about his son…

Biblical Character

Lamech

Bible Character

Noah

…Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands…

…after which, our Narrator continues, as before, with…

Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died.

After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

The Line of the Righteous from Adam to the Flood

The Righteous Lineup

And, with the line of the righteous stretched out on the stage before us, Genesis 5 or Vignette #5 abruptly comes to a halt.  The curtains close and the lights in the theatre come up again–and, we are provided with yet another pause in our production for the purpose of critiquing what has just taken place in the presentation.  Although it is tempting for us to think that there is nothing worth critiquing in this very abbreviated episode, there is quite a lot that has been revealed here that will need to be discussed.  So let’s  take a moment and change once more out of our Theatre Patrons’ Hats and into our Theatre Critics’ Hats, and get ourselves ready to analyze the People, the Patterns, and the Precedents being established in this one, seemingly uneventful, passage of Scripture.

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As Steve Green reminds us, let’s pray that when our lives are recorded  in God’s lineup of the Righteous, may all who come behind us find us faithful…

 

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.

 

 

Making the Most of Our Travel Time

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Travel Time

…By Preparing for What’s Up Ahead

Now that we have all viewed the video, “The Bible:  The Story Behind the Story,” and now that we are all back on board the Truth Train, heading toward our first stop in the Land of Revelation Knowledge itself, let’s try to make the most of our travel time by;

  • Going over what we learned from the video about the Presentation of the Bible as a story;
  • Going over the Program Guide for the story—something which we will be using throughout the remainder of our study tour; and,
  • Going over the Process by which this story will be presented to us.

The Presentation of the Bible as a Story

As we learned from the video, in addition to the many “smaller,” more individualistic stories told about the people in the Bible, there is One Big Story that the Bible was written to convey to us.  This is the love story which began before the foundation of the world, when God purposed in His heart to have a family of His own to love.  From that instant–in some far away remote and eternal past–until now, God has been actively engaged in seeing that His purpose was, is, and will be realized.  In fact, the creation of the world, as well as everything in it, and the creation of human kind, plus all subsequent human history have been directed toward the achievement of that purpose.

Although the Bible doesn’t tell us everything that has happened over the course of human history, it does relate the most significant events in the far-reaching story of God’s redemptive relationship with man.  Even so, there is still so much contained within it—still so many details and smaller stories—that when it is approached from the more traditional method of study, it is often too overwhelming for people to take in.  For that reason, and in order to make the Bible more understandable to us, we will be taking a less conventional approach to our study of it by presenting the story it tells in the form of a play—one featuring a small but select group of players who will, in the course of their interaction with one another, make clear to us the One Big Story that God wants everyone to know.

The Program Guide for the Story

Like most other plays or theatrical productions, ours will come with a Program Guide which will help us identify the Cast of Characters, the locations where and the times when the action will be taking place, and it will provide us with a breakdown of the action into Acts and Scenes, with an Intermission break in between the Acts.  Here, then, is the Program Guide for this production.  Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with it so that when we actually get into the story, you will have an idea of what is happening.

Program Guide

From this guide, it is easy for us to see that our Cast of Characters was formed from a mixture of both Heavenly Beings and Earthly Beings.  The Heavenly Beings, of course, are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, along with those Angels who remained faithful to God when the highest ranking Angel, Lucifer, led the other Fallen Angels in a rebellion against God.  The Earthly beings, on the other hand, are People organized into groups who, as Collective or Corporate Bodies, represent the three types of Covenantal groups that are characterized for us in the Bible:

  • Israel—the corporate or collective spiritual body that is in covenant relationship with God in the Old Testament;
  • The Church—the corporate or collective spiritual body that is in covenant relationship with Christ in the New Testament; and,
  • Mystery Babylon—the corporate or collective spiritual body that is in covenant relationship with Satan; and, the one representing every system of false belief or counterfeit religion that man has ever known.

As for the breakdown of the action of the Story, the Acts and Scenes fall naturally into alignment with the overall formatting provided for the story by the Ancient Jewish Wedding Tradition, something which was described briefly in the video, and something which we will learn more about as we delve deeper into the story.

Program Guide

The Process for the Presentation

Finally, concerning the process by which this story will be presented—this will be done by presenting each one of the scenes on a different stage, with there being a total of fourteen stages all together.  There will be six stages for each of the six Scenes in Act One—the Old Testament; six stages for the six Scenes in Act Two—the New Testament; one stage for a demonstration of the events that will be taking place during the Intermission between the Acts; and one final stage, at the end of Act Two, where an epilogue for the Story will be provided.   At the end of each Scene or Act, we will re-board the train and, in the process of traveling to the next stage, we will attempt to make our travel time count by reviewing what we have learned at the stage then being left behind.

In the event that you have any questions about all of this, this might be a good place for me to hold up my sign saying, “Now what did you hear me say?”, and for you to leave those questions in the comment box that follows.

Now, what did you hear me say- (4)

Any Questions?

 

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I have used this selection once before but am offering it again because this message by Selah is so appropriate for us as “We Press On” in our journey…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Meeting Our Guide, and Getting Connected to His SPS

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Visitor Information

Let’s Check the Information We’ve Obtained So Far

In preparation for the next leg of our journey into the Land of Revelation Knowledge, we have visited the first four of the five information booths located here at the Welcome Center of the Word During these visits, we have:

  • Been introduced briefly to the Bible—and learned a little about what it is and what it isn’t;
  • Been made aware of, and hopefully eliminated some of, the baggage that each of us has brought along on this trip;
  • Been shown the boundaries , or the limitations placed upon, the knowledge that will be made available to us in the land up ahead; and,
  • Examined our spiritual vision to be sure that it is functioning properly; thus, making it possible for us to see the Bible in some brand new ways.

Having completed all of this, we now find ourselves at Booth #5—the place where we will be introduced to the real Guide on this, our rocking and rolling tour through the Bible.

This Guide is none other than the Holy Spirit Himself and, although we have learned a little something about Him at each of the previous booths, we must become more intimately acquainted with Him and His ministry, if we are going to stay focused and stay together throughout the remainder of this trip.  And, the way in which we will do this is by taking a closer look at Him and…

  • His Person—by asking Who is He?
  • His Position—by asking What does He do?
  • His Power—by asking How does He do it? and,
  • His Presence—by asking How does He relate this to each one of us? 

Our Guide—the Holy Spirit… 

His Person:  Who is He?

While some people have mistakenly thought of the Holy Spirit as just an emanation of God’s power, or some impersonal spiritual force from God, in reality, He is a Person—the equal, yet distinctive third Person of the Godhead, or Trinity.  This Trinity is actually a community made up of God the Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit—three separate and unique Persons who are united in purpose, with each one working together to bring about the achievement of that purpose.  As a member of this Godhead, the Holy Spirit is every bit as divine as God the Father and God the Son; meaning that He shares in the very same divine attributes which they possess. Like them, He is:

  • Omniscient—that is, He is all-knowing (1 Cor. 2: 10-11);
  • Omnipresent—that is, He is everywhere present, all at the same time (Ps. 139: 7-10; John 14: 26; John 16: 12-13);
  • Omnipotent—that is, He is all-powerful (Luke 1:35);
  • Eternal—that is, He is, always has been, and will forever be alive (Heb. 9:14); and,
  • Holy—that is, He is pure and totally separate from sin (Rom. 1:4).
What's in a Name?

The Holy Spirit is Known by a Number of Names

Even though He is singular in His Person, the Holy Spirit is known by a number of different names—for at least twenty-five of them are found throughout the Old and New Testaments; with these names giving us some much needed insight into His Person, and into His ministry.  The names by which He is known are:

  • The Spirit—which is translated as “breath” or “wind.”  As breath, He is the “breathing out” of God Who imparts new life (Gen. 2:7, Ps. 104:30), and Who gives divine inspiration to the Word of God (Heb. 4:12); and, as wind, He is invisible and sovereign; and beyond human understanding or control (John 3:6-8).
  • The Spirit of God (1 Cor. 3:16), the Spirit of Jehovah (Is. 11:2 1 Cor. 12:11), the Spirit of the Lord Jehovah (Is. 61:1-3), and the Spirit of the Living God (2 Cor. 3:6)—in His relationship to God the Father;
  • The Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9), the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:19), the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:6,9), and the Spirit of His Son (Gal.4:6)—in His relationship to God the Son;
  • The Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), the Holy Spirit of Promise (Eph. 1:13), the Spirit of Holiness (Rom. 1:4), the Spirit of Judgment (Is. 4:4), the Spirit of Burning (Is. 4:3-4); and the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13);
  • The Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding (Is. 11:2, 2 Tm. 1:7), the Spirit of Counsel and Might (Acts 1:8, 8:29 16:6-7), the Spirit of Knowledge and the Fear of the Lord (Is. 11:2), and the Spirit of Life (Rom. 8:2);
  • The Holy Spirit of Joy (1 Thes. 1:6), the Spirit of Grace (Heb. 10:29), the Spirit of Supplication Zech. 12:10), and the Spirit of Glory (1 Pet. 4:14);
  • The Eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14)—all in regards to Himself; and,
  • The Comforter (John 14:26).  As the Comforter, He is also known as the “Paraclete” (Gk. Paraklētos), or as the “one who is called alongside” of the believer for assistance.

His Position:  What does He do?

Because He is a Person, the Holy Spirit does the things that any other personal being does:  He thinks (Rom. 8:27), He feels (Rom. 15:30), He wills (1 Cor. 12:11)—and He acts, with some of His actions being described for us in:

  • 1 Corinthians 2:10, where the Holy Spirit searches the thoughts and the deep things of God;
  • Acts 8:29 and Acts 13:2, where the Holy Spirit speaks;
  • Acts 15:28, where the Holy Spirit makes decisions;
  • Romans 8:26-27, where the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us before God;
  • John 15:26 and John 16:14, where the Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus;
  • John 14:26 and 1 Corinthians 2:13, where the Holy Spirit teaches us;
  • Romans 8:16, where the Holy Spirit reassures believers of their salvation;
  • 1 Corinthians 12:11, where the Holy Spirit distributes gifts to believers;
  • Ephesians 4:30, where the Holy Spirit grieves over sin; and,
  • Acts 16: 6-7, where the Holy Spirit overrules human plans.

His Power:  How Does He Do It? 

Although no one has ever been able to adequately explain the Trinity, one thing that seems to be apparent about it is that:

  • God the Father is the One who wills and plans;
  • God the Son is the One who does the Father’s will and carries out His plans; and,
  • God the Holy Spirit is the One who provides the power (Gk. Dunamis, or dynamic power) needed to apply the work done by the Son.

In other words, the role of the Holy Spirit is to see that the will of the Father and the work of the Son are carried out to completion.

Although we cannot actually see the Spirit’s power as He is working, we can see the evidences of that power, not only throughout the Scriptures but throughout our world, as well.  Even as He, in Genesis 1:2, was busy hovering over the darkness and chaos preceding the first coming of life—waiting in anticipation for the Word of God to be spoken so that He could perform or empower that Word into reality—He is constantly, yet invisibly, at work, bringing light and life to those who are living in darkness.  For, from the creation of the world until now, the power of the Holy Spirit has been at work:  convicting men of their sins; performing miracles; inspiring the prophets and the preachers; protecting God’s people; maintaining life as we know it on this planet; and most importantly, magnifying Jesus, and shining the light of God upon the Truth. 

Speaking of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit was also clearly seen in every aspect of His life, including His incarnation; His anointing for ministry at His baptism; His ministry to His disciples and to the crowds which followed Him; His transfiguration; His sacrificial death on the cross; His resurrection; and, the empowerment of Jesus’ disciples on the Day of Pentecost.

The Work of the Spirit

He is the Power–the Dunamis–of God

His Presence:  How does He apply the will of God and the work of Christ to us?

Since it was the will of God that:

  • No one should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 2:9);
  • We believe on the One (Jesus) whom He has sent (John 6:29);
  • We be sanctified, or made like Jesus, and be set apart for the His holy purposes (1 Thes. 4:3);

It became the work of the Son to:

  • Provide the redemption and forgiveness of sins needed to save us from perishing (Eph. 1:5-7);
  • Be sent to earth, to live a sinless and righteous life before men, to die an agonizing death on the cross in order to make atonement for the sins of all men, and to overcome death through His own resurrection; and,
  • Go back to the Father, and ask that the Holy Spirit be sent to apply the work that He had accomplished.

As for the way in which the Holy Spirit applies both the will of God and the work of the Son in our lives, He does this through the on-going work of His Eternal, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Holy Presence, as He:

  • Convinces of us of our sins, the righteousness of Christ, and the judgment waiting for us in the future (John 16:8-11)—so that we can be brought to repentance;
  • Regenerates, or brings back to life, our long dead spirits, thus reconnecting our spirits with God’s (Titus 3:4-7);
  • Comes to live within us—writing the laws of God upon our hearts, and teaching us to live lives that are pleasing to God—reproducing the very character of Christ in us as a result (James 4:5, Heb. 10:16, Gal. 6:22-23);
  • Baptizes us and places us into the Body of Christ, giving us gifts of service, and then empowering us to use those gifts to carry on the work of the Son (1 Cor. 12:4-11, 1 Pet. 4:10); and,
  • Guarantees our inheritance by His seal, until we can take possession of it ourselves when we get to Glory, (Eph. 1:13).

As you can see, the Holy Spirit is a very busy and a very important Person in our lives; for, in the plan of God, it is His work to birth us as the spiritual children of God, and then, to help us mature into sons and daughters of God who can carry on the work of Christ in this world, and prepare us for His coming Kingdom in the next.

So what does all of this mean for us, as we prepare ourselves for our upcoming study of God’s Word?  It means that the Holy Spirit will be with us every step of the way, leading and guiding us into all Truth, and revealing God to us in ways we never thought possible.  For us to stay on track, though, and not get lost by wandering off in a lot of different directions, we need to be sure that we are always connected to Him through His SPS—or His Spirit’s Positioning System.  It’s a very simple system, really, and one that each of us can easily operate; for all we have to do to stay connected is to:

  • Pray for wisdom, because…”If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to you (James 1:5)”; and,
  • Submit all study to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, because…”When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you (John 16:13-15)”.

Smiley Face with Earphones2Instead of the musical selection I usually include at this point, here is a little video that I put together to summarize what we have learned so far while here at the Welcome Center of the Word.  Once you have viewed it, and in anticipation of any questions or comments you may have, I think that this may be a good place for me to hold up my sign saying, “Now what did you hear me say?”

 

 

Now what did you hear me say?

Any Questions?

 

Time Out for a Vision Check at Booth #4

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So far, during our extended stop-over at the Welcome Center of the Word, we have taken time out for:

A Bible check at Booth #1;
A Baggage check at Booth #2; and,
A Map check at Booth #3.

Eye exam

It’s Time for a Spiritual Vision Exam

Now that we have taken care of these first few essentials, let’s make our way on over to Booth #4, where we will also take some time for a vision check.  Why a vision check?  Well, before proceeding any further into the Land of Revelation Knowledge, and so that we will be able to behold all of the beautiful truths waiting for us up ahead, we need to make sure that our ability to see them will not be impaired in any way.

I am pretty sure that when most of us hear the word “vision,” our thoughts automatically turn to our physical eyesight, or our ability to see the material things that exist in the natural world around us.  But our physical eyesight isn’t the kind that we need to be concerned with on this trip; the type of vision that we need to check, and possibly even correct, is our spiritual vision.

To better understand what I mean by this term, let’s pause briefly for another one of our DOTS—better known as a definition of terms.  Referring once again to my trusty pocket dictionary, I have learned that:

  • Spiritual—is defined as of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit:  incorporeal;
  • Incorporeal—is defined as having no body or form; and,
  • Vision—is defined as the act or power of seeing.
Vision: Seeing the Unseeable

How Can We See the Unseeable?

So then, if we put the three of these individual definitions together, this will produce the kind of collective definition that will be most meaningful to us—and that is…

Spiritual vision is the power to see that which has no body or form.

This seems like a relatively simple and straightforward definition, doesn’t it?  There is only one problem with it, though—just how is it possible for any of us to see “that which has no body or form?”  Or, to put it another way, how are we supposed to see that which is unseeable with our physical eyes?

For the answers to these questions, I think we need to look no further than the following Vision Check Questionnaire:

Question #1:  How can I get or know if I have spiritual vision?

If you have experienced the New Birth, then you already have spiritual vision.  That’s because, when you were born again and the Holy Spirit quickened your previously dead spirit, He also opened the “eyes”of that spirit so that you would be able to “see” the things that He, over the course of time, would be showing you.  Unlike our physical eyesight which (barring any impairment by accident or disease) begins to function soon after our births, our spiritual vision frequently takes some time to develop.  So, even if you are not aware of its existence right now, this does not mean that it isn’t there. A good illustration of someone in the Scriptures with undeveloped spiritual eyesight can be found in Mark 8:23, where Jesus healed a blind man who had been brought to him at the village of Bethsaida:

And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”  And he looked up and said, “I see men but they look like trees, walking.”  Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again, and when he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 

(For more on seeing men as trees, please check out some of our earlier “tree” reflections, particularly Of Trees and Tapestries.)

Question #2:  Why do I need to see spiritually?

Since God is Spirit, the only way that we can “see” Him is through our spirits.  This is exactly what Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:24, when He stated…

…God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

The Apostle Paul went on to explain this principle in more depth in 1 Cor. 2:7, and in the verses that follow:

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory…these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.  For the Spirit 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. 

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from 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 Spirit, interpreting spiritual truth to those who are spiritual.  [For] 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.

Question #3:  What is needed for me to begin seeing with spiritual vision?

The Eye of Faith

The Eye of Faith

To begin seeing with your spiritual vision, you need to develop eyes of faith because, as we are told in Hebrews 11:6…

…without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

And, as for what faith is, according to Hebrews 11:1ff, it is…

…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…by faith we understand that the universe was created by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Question #4:  Where do I get the faith I need to see things that are spiritual in nature?

The only place to get this kind of faith is in the Bible; as we are told in Romans 10:17…

…faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of God.

It is as we study the Word of God that the Holy Spirit begins speaking to our spirits, making known to us the things about God which would otherwise remain unknowable to the natural mind of man.  He does it by using the things in the world that we can see to explain to us the things in the spirit world that we cannot see.

Question #5:  What are some of the things that will impair my vision?

Sin is one thing that will limit what we can see with our spiritual eyes.  In Matthew 6:22, Jesus warned us of this when He said:

The eye is the lamp of the body.  So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Because they are the portals to our innermost beings, our eyes will determine the amount of light, or enlightenment, which will be sent to our spirits.  If our eyes are clear, the light will flow through them in abundance; however, if they are darkened or clouded over by sin, no light of understanding will be able to penetrate, and our spirits will remain in darkness.

Open Bible

No Word, No Vision

Another contributing factor to poor spiritual vision is our negligence when it comes to the study of God’s Word.  Since the Word is the source of our faith, and faith is what it takes for us to see spiritually, then logically, No Word = No Vision.

Disease can also be an impediment to our ability to see things clearly, and the disease that is most often at fault is something that I call Spiritual Myopia.  By definition…

…myopia is the condition in which visual images come to a focus in front of the retina, resulting especially in defective vision of distant objects.  

When we apply this definition to our spiritual vision, we learn that Spiritual Myopia is really spiritual nearsightedness or our inability to see distant objects clearly—with the distant object in this case being the Big Picture of God’s plans and purposes for mankind. This disease can afflict anyone at any time–with even the most devoted students of the Word falling victim to it–causing them to get so lost in the many smaller details and stories of the Bible that they often fail to see the really Big Picture that God wants to show them.

Question #6:  What can be done to improve or correct my spiritual vision?

To be sure that your vision remains clear, you must:

  • Be vigilant in guarding your heart against sin;
  • Stay in communion with God through a regular program of prayer and Bible study; and,
  • Learn to identify and eliminate any spiritual farsightedness which may be hindering your ability to see through your eyes of faith.  To do this, you must learn to expand your spiritual vision by exploring new ways of looking at the Bible; ways which will allow you to see the broad, over-arching story that God wants us all to know.

Because this process of learning new ways of looking at the Bible is so crucial to the development of our spiritual vision, it is something that we will be undertaking throughout the remainder of our journey through the Land of Revelation Knowledge.  It is a process by which we will learn to:

  • Distinguish between story and structure—for when we do, we will find that there is One Main Plot to the Bible;
  • Think corporately—for when we learn to view the people in the Bible collectively, we will find that there is a very small but specific Cast of Characters there;
  • Acquaint ourselves with God’s Principles of Explanation–for when we understand that God’s method of explanation is to use the known to explain the unknown, it will be easy for us to identify the recurring Theme or Motifs running throughout the Bible; and,
  • Interpret the text on multiple levels—for when we do that, we will discover the Different Levels of Truth that the Bible reveals to us.

The very best part about all of this, though, is that once we learn to view the Bible in these new ways, not only will we able to see God more clearly, but the study of His Word will become a true delight to us–no longer being something that we have to do but instead becoming something that we really want to do!

Smiley Face with Earphones2

 

Join Selah in “Be Thou My Vision…”