September 16, 2018 Welling Up

Welling Up

We sometimes use this term to describe the filling to overflowing of our eyes with tears, in sorrow or with joy. This gradual filling may be illustrated by Solomon’s Proverbs 4.18 (Bible), where he pictures our righteousness as the light of dawn reaching its zenith about noon. Jesus uses this term in John 4.14 to describe our sanctification; that is, our increasing knowledge and faith, ideally, reaching His level, as Paul describes in Ephesians 4.13.

The context for this teaching is, perhaps, as unexpected as that with Nicodemus in Chapter Three of John’s gospel (Painter). Jesus explains His encounter with Nicodemus in John 3.8 as being directed by the Spirit of God. In Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, in Chapter Four, we can infer the same Source of leadership, in John 4.1-7. We are, thus, reminded of the importance of our submission in Romans 8.14. Jesus’ encounter tells us why.

John MacArthur writes about the context of John 4.10: “Jesus used the woman’s need for physical water to sustain life in this arid region in order to serve as an object lesson for her need for spiritual transformation” (MacArthur). In verse 13, Jesus tells her that water from Jacob’s well is only a short-term satisfaction to her physical body. He continues the contrast by telling her that His “water” for her will never need replenishing. And, He says that the “water” from this “gift” can be hers by receiving Him as Messiah (John 1.12; 4.10, 25-26, 29-30, 39).

Jonathan Cahn helps us to understand this “gift”. He explains that, in ancient times, because the groom did not see his bride from the time of their engagement until the wedding day. However, he would send her a gift, called a mattan, between the dates “to assure her of his pledge, [as] a guarantee of his faithfulness, [and] a promise of things to come” (Cahn). Then, perhaps, he connects this to Jesus’ statement to the Samaritan woman and us: “The Spirit is the Mattan of the Bridegroom’s love for the bride [of Christ]” (ibid).

Jesus describes the giving of this “gift” in John 14.15-17. Notice there that the Spirit already “dwells with you”, as in John 3.8 evidencing the Kingdom of God, and “will be in you”, as in the coming Day of Pentecost (Acts 2.1-4). This Spirit of God is the “gift” of God and gives “living water” (John 4.10; 7.37-38).

Jesus tells her, “‘The water that I will give [to “‘whoever drinks of the water’”] will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’” (John 4.14). It is the Holy Spirit Who sanctifies us by teaching us God’s word (John 17.17; 1.17) and by reminding us what Jesus said and did (John 16.13-15; 14.26; 5.19-20; 12.49). This sanctification grows us into Jesus’ measure of knowledge and faith (Ephesians 4.13).

Jesus describes “welling up” in Matthew 13.52 as someone who remembers with joy past experiences of walking with the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God (John 3.8) and being led by Him into new experiences (Matthew 13.44-51; Romans 8.14; 1 Corinthians 12.1-11). After all, the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11.2).

In His concluding comments to the woman, Jesus reminds us that true worship is with our spirits, not our bodies; John 4.23-24. The body simply follows the leading of the spirit in this dance of worship; as in John 6.63. And, Isaiah 66.2b reminds of Jesus’ emphasis on God’s word as truth in John 17.17(1.17). So, may our thinking be directed by a proper mindset and be evidenced through righteous behaviors (Romans 12.1-2).

References

Bible. The English Standard Version is used by the writer. www.olivetree.com.

Cahn, J. 2016. The Book of Mysteries. FrontLine. Lake Mary, FL.

MacArthur, J. MacArthur Study Notes. www.olivetree.com.

Painter, M. L. September 2 & 9, 2018. Twice Born. www.sozoclass.com.

Welling Up 180916
Praise God!!! Copyright © 2018 by Maurice L. Painter. www.sozoclass.com.

 

September 9, 2018 Twice Born

Twice Born

The dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus reveals God’s love for mankind and His expectations for Christian maturity. Both aspects are revealed in the closing verses of Chapter Two, John 2.23-25 (Bible). Verse 23reveals Omnipotent God expressing what He had stated earlier, in Exodus 34.10. The study question is: how do Jesus’ statements about experiencing the Kingdom of God relate to Nicodemus’ questions and this verse 23? The second aspect asks the same question about verses 24-25, which reveal the Omniscient God. Additionally, the Omnipresent God is there with Jesus.

John 3.16 is a, perhaps too, familiar verse to Christians. We may be inclined to consider it solely and/or to display it on placards without considering the context of verses before and after. So, please stop and read John 2.23-3.21 before proceeding with this study.

The Omniscient God

Considering this second aspect first will help to frame the other. Apostle Paul understood the struggle between the flesh and spirit to control our thinking. In 1 Thessalonians 5.23, he states that we are “spirit and soul and body” comprising one “whole” person. He properly places the soul between the opposing forces, spirit and body, for the soul, that is the mind, will, and emotions, is where the mindset struggles against the flesh, to dominate our thinking. His personal description of this struggle is his discussion in Romans 7.7-8.11.

Paul’s thoughts in Romans 7.21-23explain what Jesus understood in John 2.24-25. He would, later, discuss this dilemma in Matthew 13.18-22, revealing the schemes that satan uses to intimidate submission to the flesh. Jesus’ statement in John 5.44 regarding the Pharisees gives one illustration. Paul would add others later in Galatians 5.19-21.

So, with this background, we can appreciate Jesus getting right to the point with Nicodemus in John 3.3: you must be born again (John 3.5-6)! Perhaps, John 9.4-5 expresses Jesus’ sense of urgency expressed here. There is no time to waste!

Mankind needs reconciliation to God now (2 Corinthians 5.20)! Jesus may return for us at any moment, after which time there will be no acceptance of God’s Savior (Revelation 4.1-2). You notice, in Revelation 4.2, that John was “at once in the [Holy] Spirit’s power” (Amplified Bible).

Thus, Jesus continues to explain ‘twice born’ in John 3.16-21 and might, in our day, have turned the light switch off and on to explain His response to Nicodemus’ confession in John 3.2. Jesus understood the “we” to include all of the Sanhedrin. Their unwillingness to confess this, however, would lead Jesus, later in John 8.44, to inform them of their obvious choice of the flesh over the spirit. He makes a concluding statement of this in John 15.24; they hate both the Son and the Father — the definition of sin.

The Omnipotent God

What if, however, Jesus heard Nicodemus’ statement, “‘no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him’” (John 3.2), as a query about the “signs” mentioned in John 2.23, which he might have witnessed earlier that day? If a query about the “signs”, what does Jesus mean by “‘unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3.3)?

It is important for this understanding to note the difference in the Greek word “signs” used by Nicodemus (John 3.2) and “signs” used by the Holy Spirit through writer John in John 2.23. Nicodemus meant “indications”; that is, of Jesus’ divinity; similarly in 1 Corinthians 1.22 and Hebrews 2.4. But, John meant “a baffling wind”. And, the Greek word for “wind” is also used for “spirit”. Thus, Jesus answers Nicodemus by describing the Spirit of God in John 3.8. Luke describes similarly in Acts 2.2the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost: a “mighty rushing wind” that “filled the entire house where [the disciples] were sitting.”

Could Jesus’ discussion in John 3.5-13 frame His earlier “signs” as a result of “seeing” (verse 3, Greek for discern and Hebrew for experience) and
“entering” (verse 5, Greek for go into) the Kingdom of God? And, could the Kingdom of God simply be wherever God, the Spirit, directs us in our daily walk to do His will (verse 8, Isaiah 30.21, Romans 8.14)? This view seems supported by Matthew 10.7-8 and Luke 10.1-9, 17-19.

Jesus’ declaration in John 3.16 is, obviously, that new birth; i.e., the acceptance of Himself as the promised Messiah. This is our “access by faith into this grace [i.e., “gift” (Easton’s)] in which we stand”, as Paul states in Romans 5.2. Paul’s “into” is the same Greek word used by Jesus in Matthew 28.19: “baptizing them in [or into] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Note that Christians “stand” in the Kingdom of God now! Remember that Jesus said to pray for “Your kingdom come” in Matthew 6.9, perhaps more completely through us. Only as we surrender completely to Jesus can the Kingdom of God be seen more fully through us, as Paul pleads in Ephesians 5.1.

Jesus’ commentary to Nicodemus in John 3.16-21is both a declaration of God’s love for people and a contrast between people who receive Jesus as Messiah (John 1.12) and those who will not. People in the Kingdom of God have life (verse 16; John 1.4a) and light (verse 21; John 1.4b-5, 9) that contrasts those who have chosen to remain in darkness (verses 19-20). The latter are condemned, but the former are saved because they have “believed in the name of the only Son of God” (verse 18).

Have Christians become satisfied with the annual presents from being “born of water” (John 3.5) and are missing out on the “signs” (John 2.23) that are available to those who are born of “the Spirit” (John 3.5)? Acts 11.25-26 is the first occasion when persons of the Kingdom of God were called “Christians”, meaning “followers of Christ”. Was Jesus encouraging Nicodemus to become a “follower of Christ” and evidence this by “signs”?

Miracles are a revelation of God that draws unbelievers and believers to Him (John 1.18). This was Peter’s experience in Acts 3.1-16. This was Paul’s experience in Acts 14.8-18, 19.11-12, and 28.7-10. What would happen in your church if “signs” of the Kingdom of God became evidenced through you and other Christians in your community? Contrary to Nicodemus, you have been “born again” to “see” and to “enter” the Kingdom of God (John 3.3, 5-6).

Being partially in the power of the Kingdom of God is the struggle between the spirit and flesh for control of the soul (mind, will, and emotions) that Paul evidenced (Romans 7.7-8.11) and advocated for dominance by the spirit in 1 Thessalonians 5.23. Jesus knew that this was the struggle within every person (John 2.24-25). Are you missing out by giving in to the flesh?

It is the struggle that William Blake famously describes in the following:

“This life’s dim windows of the soul 
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
 When you see with, not through, the eye” (Blake).

References
 Bible.

English Standard Version. www.olivetree.com.

Blake, William. Quotes. www.goodreads.com.

Easton’s. Easton’s Bible Dictionary. www.olivetree.com.

 

August 26, 2018 Exodus 6:3 Again

Exodus 6:3 Again

Let me begin by framing this study of John 2.1-22 (ESV) as representative of Jesus’ developing our mindset on God throughout the remainder of John’s Gospel. This is the reason the Word (John 1.1) took upon Himself flesh (John 1.14) to reveal the Father/ Creator to mankind (John 1.18). Our challenge is to know and understand God (Jeremiah 9.23-24) through the specific seven miracles and other teachings of Jesus, among the many (John 21.25), which the Holy Spirit refreshed in John’s memory during the 60 years from the time John personally experienced Jesus (1 John 1.1-4).

The study of John 2.1-22 prompts the following questions:

  • Why do you think the Holy Spirit begins with Jesus’ first miracle of turning water
into wine?
  • What did Jesus’ objection, “My hour has not yet come” (verse 4), mean?
  • What did Mary expect Jesus to do (verse 5)? What or Who might have prompted her to engage Him in the bridegroom’s troubles?
  • How did Jesus’ solution “manifest His glory” (verse 11)? What is the connection of this to John 1.18?
  • How many disciples were with Jesus at this wedding?
  • Why did Jesus object to merchants’ enabling worshippers in the Temple with their 
offerings?
  • Why did Jesus justify His actions with, seeming, hyperbole?
  • To what past and future events was Jesus referring and why (verse 19; Jonah)?
  • What was the reaction of His disciples?

The Wedding Feast

On the “third day” after Jesus’ baptism and calling of Andrew and Simon/Peter as disciples, (John 1.26-42) and on the same day that Jesus called Phillip and Nathanael as disciples (John 1.43-2.1), Jesus left Bethany (or Bethsaida, perhaps) for Cana in Galilee, to attend a wedding there with his mother. At the wedding feast, Jesus replenished the exhausted supply of wine with pure, Heavenly wine (John 2.1-10).

Jesus’ objection but obedience to Mary’s request (John 2.3) is understood in the following:

The phrase [“My hour has not yet come.”] constantly refers to Jesus’ death and exaltation (John 7:30 8:20 12:23, 27 13:1 17:1). He was on a divine schedule decreed by God before the foundation of the world. Since the prophets characterized the messianic age as a time when wine would flow liberally (Jeremiah. 31:12; Hosea. 14:7; Amos 9:13–14), Jesus was likely referring to the fact that the necessity of the cross must come before the blessings of the millennial age. (MacArthur, John 2.3)

As I was prayerfully reflecting upon Jesus’ objection, I was reminded that Jesus will be our Bridegroom in the New Earth (Revelation 21.1-22.14) and will celebrate our wedding feast! It was a pleasing thought that Jesus might have expressed melancholy, too, in His statement.

The study title, Exodus 6.3 Again, suggests another understanding that might be communicated by the Holy Spirit through this, Jesus’ first miracle. This OT verse is a pivot by God to Moses that will evidence the hitherto unacknowledged characteristic of God’s Omnipotence: LORD! God had revealed Himself to earlier generations as El Shaddai or God Almighty (Psalm 91.1) providing for their various needs. And, while God Almighty would continue to provide manna (Exodus 16.14-15; Joshua 5.12) and resilient cloths and sandals (Deuteronomy 29.5) for the wandering Jews until they crossed the Jordan River opposite Jericho, He would reveal His Lordship by driving from the Promised Land the peoples whose lifestyles were profaning it (Leviticus 18.24-28). In Cana, Jesus reveals God Almighty (John 1.18) by providing wine for His needy celebrants…and only the best! He would, next, demonstrate God as LORD of the Temple and of life.

Cleansing the Temple

At Jesus’ first presentation of Himself at the Feast of Passover (Deuteronomy 16.16-17) in Jerusalem as Messiah, His indignant behavior, expressing His mindset, drove out the Temple merchants, which He might have seen there during earlier annual, family visits. They were, now, abhorrent! The four disciples understood that Jesus’ words (John 2.15 & 16) and deeds were probably from God reminding them of David’s Psalm 69.9: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Jesus had demonstrated His “zeal” on one other recorded occasion, when at age 12, He questioned and answered the teachers in the Temple; Luke 2.46.

What did Jesus’ answer announce to those who heard Him (John 2.19)? This reply would be repeated to accuse Jesus at trial (Matthew 26.61, Mark 14.58) and would become a derision from the onlookers at the Cross (Matthew 27.40, Mark 15.29-30). But, was this Jesus’ ‘poking the bear’, so to speak? Was this announcement of His resurrection an initial statement of certainty that He would triumph in the end over their threats and, eventual, crucifixion of Him? Would Jesus’ second “loud cry” from the Cross (Matthew 27.50; Mark 15.37) declare His victory over satan’s evil system, like the male lion announcing his successful night of hunting? Jesus’ pronouncement would be a repeat of Omnipotent God declaring in arrears and in advance His victory over all of the gods of Egypt, in Exodus 12.12. Jesus IS Lord (Luke 2.11, Romans 10.9, Joel 2.32a, Philippians 2.11)!

MacArthur writes about the 46 years construction of the building (verse 20):
In 20/19 b.c. Herod the Great began a reconstruction and expansion [of the Temple completed by Jews returning from Babylonian captivity in 516 b.c.]. Workers completed the main part of the project in 10 years, but other parts were still being constructed even at the time Jesus cleansed the temple. Interestingly, the finishing touches on the whole enterprise were still being made at its destruction by the Romans along with Jerusalem in a.d. 70. The famous “Wailing Wall” is built on part of the Herodian temple foundation. (MacArthur, John 2.20)

John 2.11 & 22 tell us the reactions of the disciples to these two events. How were their mindsets changed? Remember that only four disciples were present with Jesus at the Feast and would have been among others experiencing His resurrection. They already knew Jesus was Omniscient (John 1.35-51). What characteristic of God did they learn in Cana and Jerusalem? What is your reaction? How will this study increase your faith and change your lifestyle? How do these two illustrations change your mindset about Jesus?

References

ESV. English Standard Version of the Holy Bible. www.olivetree.com.

MacArthur. MacArthur Study Bible Notes. www.olivetree.com.

Exodus 6.3 Again 180819

Praise God!!! Copyright © 2018 by Maurice L. Painter. www.sozoclass.com.

August 12, 2018

OMNISCIENT

The first chapter of John’s Gospel presents a trilogy of purposes which the Word would accomplish in bringing Life and Light (John 1.4 & 9) to Earth (Painter, June 29, 2018). We have considered two in previous studies of Grace and Truth (Painter, July 14, 2018) and Veritas Really (July 25, 2018). This study considers the third: Revealing God (John 1.18: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known”; ESV Bible; John 1.1, 4.24). Specifically, Jesus reveals God’s Omniscience in His introductions to Peter and Nathanael as we finish chapter one. In retrospect, the author should have connected Grace to God’s Omnipotence and Truth to God’s Omnipresence.

John 1.35-42tells the story of Jesus’ foreknowledgeof Peter’s proclamation in Matthew 16.15-18, but not recorded by John. Please read these passages in order before continuing. Jesus declaration to Simon, “You shall be called
Cephas” (which means Peter)” [Aramaic and Greek for “rock”, respectively (Strong’s)], is better understood by considering “shall be” as a future event, when Jesus confirms Peter’s declaration, “‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Matthew 16.16), as coming from God (ibid, verse 17) and as being the foundation upon which the church is established and developed (ibid, verse 18; Acts 16.31; Romans 10.9-10). Peter did not begin with that understanding but grew into it; see Luke 5.8. The church is built upon the solid rock of faith that begins with receiving (John 1.12) the Anointed Savior Whom we must make Lord over our lives for the remainder of our earthly lives (Hebrews 12.1-2; Romans 12.1-2).

A curious question: does God foreknow the tasks He will accomplish through us when He welcomes us to Earth at our birth? Are many people dissatisfied with their lives and/or are they underutilized because they never discover His purpose for them? They may never have been taught and encouraged to this reality and, so, have chosen less than His best because that was satan’s scheme? God’s tasks, of course, become fulfilled by another, although the blessing was intended for the former. See Jeremiah 1.5, 9-10; John 3.27.

John 1.43-51tells the story of Jesus’ historical knowledge of Nathanael’s prayers for the coming of Messiah (Henry). Perhaps, Nathanael’s favorite location for praying to and for contemplating God and Scripture was a secluded fig tree, where Phillip may have found him (ibid, verse 45). “This showed [Nathanael] that our Lord knew the secrets of his heart. Through Christ we commune with, and benefit by the holy angels; and things in heaven and things on earth are reconciled and united together” (Henry).

It is interesting that Jesus addresses Nathanael as “‘an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit’” (ibid, verse 47). In the first part, Jesus certifies Nathanael’s lineage from Patriarch Jacob; in the second, He recognizes him as more pure than his deceiving progenitor (Genesis 27.36).

Jesus’ declaration in John 1.51may have reminded Nathanael of the story from Genesis 28.10-22. Jesus, then, reveals it’s true meaning: Jesus IS the ladder—the only way to God (John 14.6)! After all, the Lord Jesus stood at the top of the ladder (Genesis 28.13), and we, believers in Jesus (John 1.12), begin our upward climb by being baptized “into” His Name, “Jesus” (Matthew 28.19).

Jesus’ knowledge of Nathanael’s past practice sufficed as proof to him of Jesus’ divinity and as the answer to his prayers, as Nathanael declares in John 1.49: “‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’” Nathanael’s declaration is a contrast to his colloquialism in John 1.46, an adage expressing the historic insignificance of Nazareth; see John 7.52.Matthew 2.22-23states why Joseph chose Nazareth as Jesus’ home. Luke includes the later significance of ‘Nazarene’ in Acts 24.5(MacArthur).

Note the three levels of Nathanael’s understanding of Jesus: Teacher, Savior/ Messiah, Ruler! [Perhaps, Jeremiah 9.23-24was Nathanael’s statement of life purpose, as it is this writer’s.] Nathanael’s statement is a confirmation of John’s declaration in John 1.9. Apostle Paul states other ways in 1 Corinthians 15.28. Dr. Ronald Nash emphasizes the comprehensiveness of “Jesus” in the following:

After John describes Jesus as the cosmological Logos [John 1.1-3], he presents Him as the epistemological Logos. John declares that Christ was  “the true light that enlightens every man” (John 1.9). In other words, the epistemological Logos is not only the mediator of divine special revelation (John 1.14), He is also the ground of all human knowledge. (Nash, 1982, p. 67)

Only God is Omniscient! Jesus’ statements to Nathanael and to Simon give us the extremes of omniscience: knowledge of the past and equal knowledge of the future. This has been and will be true for every person born in the image of God (Genesis 1.26). None escapes His notice (2 Chronicles 16.9a; Proverbs 5.21). But, how do you know and understand Him better in the contexts of your daily walk? Do you know His purpose for your life? Reflect upon the iterations of your career. How can you see God’s leadership? Is He finished with you? I doubt it!

Let me offer a final word about the description of Jesus by John the Baptist that must have piqued the curiosity of Andrew and Phillip; John 1.29: “‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” Because of this declaration by God through JB, Andrew found Simon and Phillip found Nathanael for sharing the good news. John, the Apostle, discusses the Lamb of God 28 times in his final Book, Revelation, beginning with the beloved Heavenly scene in Revelation 5.1-14(Naves). Concerning this first inclusion, Zondervan writes:

He had seven horns, which probably were symbolic of his great power. He had seven eyes that represented his ceaseless vigilance for the people of God; thus the eyes were reinterpreted as the seven spirits of God, the fullness of God’s Spirit working in behalf of his people. His attributes were those of God—omnipotence and omniscience. (Zondervan)

Apparently, the Holy Spirit chose this trilogy — Omnipotent Grace, Omnipresent Truth, and Omniscient Revelation — for John to remember and write about 60 years after he walked with Jesus on Earth. They are the Life and Light that will be seen, heard, and learned in the remaining chapters of John’s Gospel. Omniscience and Omnipotence, in His Omnipresence. And, you are IN Him (John 17.21)!

OMNISCIENT 180805/12*
Praise God!!! Copyright © 2018 by Maurice L. Painter. www.sozoclass.com. !3

References
ESV Bible. English Standard Version. Referenced unless noted otherwise.

www.olivetree.com.
Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible.

www.olivetree.com.
MacArthur. MacArthur Bible Study Notes.www.olivetree.com.
Nash, Ronald H. 1982. The Word of God and The Mind of Man. P&R Publishing.

Phillipsburg, NJ.
Naves. Naves Topical Bible Index. www.olivetree.com.
Painter, Maurice L. June 29, 2018. Explaining the Incomprehensible.

www.sozoclass.com.
Painter, Maurice L. July 14, 2018. Grace and Truth. www.sozoclass.com. Painter, Maurice L. July 28, 2018. Veritas Really. www.sozoclass.com. Strong’s. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. www.olivetree.com. Zondervan. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary. www.olivetree.com.

July 29, 2018 Veritas, Really!

Veritas, Really!

Economist Russ Roberts of the Hoover Institute at Stanford University hosts a weekly podcast titled, EconTalk. Normally an interviewer of noted authors, Dr. Roberts chose, this week, to monologize about the increasing tribalism in America. He attributes the cause to a proliferation of news media during the past, especially ten years, that solicit the same, limited audience. So, to gain their slice, each supplier of news frames events for the psychographics of their, mostly unique, audience; perhaps, embellishing the event (as in portraying the five-pound fish as a fifty-pound behemoth that put up a great fight) or, even, creating an event (otherwise called ‘fake news’) to spew out their agendas.

Consequently, perhaps, Pilate questioned correctly: “What is truth?” (Bible, John 18.38ESV). Note that John writes that Pilate “said” this question in reply to Jesus’ assertion, instead of asking for an answer. [And, to complete the EconTalk episode: Dr. Roberts’ point is that we should listen to others’ views for learning and civility. {Personally, I have found this to hone critical thinking skills for: identifying misinformation, disinformation, and ‘straw-man’ arguments.}]

Pilate’s statement responded to Jesus’ answer to his question in John 18.37. In His answer, Jesus restates what Gospel-writer John attributes as the purpose of the Word bringing “Light” into the world (John 1.17explaining John 1.9).
“Grace” and “Truth” ARE the “Light” in every Nature of Reality: Aesthetic, Epistemology, Ethic, and Metaphysic! Light, that is grace and truth, came into the world through the Anointed Word, “Jesus”. Grace and truth are “Jesus”, since the Word took upon Himself flesh (John 1.14) and had been so named by God through Angel Gabriel (Luke 1.31& Matthew 1.21).

Pilate’s statement, “What is truth?” (John 18.38), reveals the relativism of the standards for distinguishing accuracy in that day. He was a product of the power struggle within the Roman Empire that resulted in Gaius Octavius, Julius Caesar’s son, becoming Caesar (the title Augustus was also given him {Wikipedia, Roman Empire}; thus, Luke 2.1-7tells that Caesar Augustus {like despot} proclaimed a tax that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem). Truth depended upon the opinion of the superior power who was speaking. Likewise, Apostle Paul points out that “Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1.22; Acts 17.21). So, three different philosophical cultures—force, tradition, reason—illustrate differently the interpretative nature of ‘truth’.

Into this relativistic context came the Word interjecting Truth. So, Truth IS the Word (John 1.1) Who brought a disruption to their cultures (Mark 3.1-6)! Perhaps, this understanding gives a clearer explanation of Jesus’ encouragement in John 8.31-32. Certain Jews had “received” the Word.

  • According to John 1.12, had they believed in Jesus’ Name or in His teachings and proofs?
  • In Jesus’ caution, “If you abide in my word…” (John 8.31), was He cautioning them to continue to believe in His Name? [How does Hebrews 6.4-6emphasize this answer? What about Revelation 12.11? What about 2 John 1-2? {was John being consistent}] Or, was He cautioning them just to remain in harmony with His teachings?
  • Which answer gives the broadest application of “truth” (John 8.32)? How does Matthew 28.18 explain that the letter understanding is application of the former?
  • Which answer reveals a mindset guiding thinking? Which reveals 
behaviors demonstrating thinking? [In your contemplation, consider Jesus’ sequence in His Model Prayer in Matthew 6.9-10: mindset in verse nine, thinking in verse 10a, behaviors in verse 10b.] Why is mindset a better approach to train thinking than is behavior?]
  • Which answer, above, does Apostle Paul intimate in Colossians 2.8-10(compare with John 1.14)?

Consider how Jesus emphasizes the importance of the Word in John 14.6: “‘No one comes to the Father except through me.’” The Word had taken on flesh and name (John 1.14; Hebrews 2.14-15; Luke 1.31) to pay the death penalty for the sins of all who would receive His Name (Hebrews 10.1-24;Isaiah 1.18). Thus, Jesus says He, Himself, is Life that gives Light (John 14.6; John 1.4)! 
How does capitalizing “I AM” and listing “way…truth…life” help to explain Jesus’ emphasis on the Word in John 1.1? How does Philippians 2.9-11agree with this?

Jesus, the Word, IS Truth (John 1.14, 16-17; John 17.17{are we sanctified by the words of Scripture or by the Name into which we are baptizoed; Matthew 28.19, then 20; 1 John 5.20?})! We grow into that Name and into more Truth over time, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3.18and Ephesians 1.5 & 11. In John 14.16-17, Jesus states that the Holy Spirit (the Helper from God the Father) is the Spirit of Truth with the disciples in Himself and would be the Truth always with them in the Word “Jesus” that they had been given (John 16.23-24; Luke 10.17, 19; Mark 16.15especially 20; illustrated in Acts 3.6). God, Himself, IS Truth (Isaiah 65.16; Psalm 18.30; Deuteronomy 32.4)! So, the Trinity IS Truth, and John 17.17says that we grow spiritually by abiding in the Word, as Jesus said in John 8:31-32(above)! Our spiritual development will guide our mental focus to direct our physical behaviors; i.e., mindset, thinking, behavior, respectively. We must abide in Truth, for our contexts of this world need it!

“Pilate” speaks today in the voices of many subversives of truth. Consider the relativistic views in the following opinion pieces.

America’s ruling elites did not merely forget America’s heritage; they have deliberately suppressed it. They look enviously at Europe, whose abandonment of Christianity and acceptance of mass migration has brought that continent to the brink of a new authoritarianism. Try home schooling in Germany, for instance. Or speaking your mind in merry old England, which locks people up for failing to salute the rainbow flag or the crescent and star.

The same sort of mischief is percolating in America, held back only by the strength of American Christianity, which is why the left assaults it at every turn. Unchecked, the left’s revolutionaries will fundamentally transform America into a place where we must lie to survive.

As religion writer Lauren Markoe writes: “LGBT people of faith say there is much work to be done to extend the spirit of the law to the nation’s churches.” If that doesn’t chill you to the bone, you haven’t been paying attention to the fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s imposition of same- sex “marriage” or the court victories notched by transgender activists.

In the 1830s, French social critic Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that churches were the glue holding the new republic together. Many scholars now instead credit the secular Enlightenment and ignore the Great Revivals. “The Enlightenment is working,” writes Harvard University Professor Steven Pinker. “Our ancestors replaced dogma, tradition and authority with reason, debate and institutions of truth seeking.” Never mind the Man from Nazareth who proclaimed, “the truth shall make you free.” (Knight, 2018)

And, from former religion editor at The Tennessean, Ray Waddle:

Most Americans believe in God, heaven, hell, devil and angels, but conviction about them has declined since 2001, says one Gallup analysis. By now it’s a cliche that millennials care less about institutional church than older generations do.
A trend seems to have emerged over the past 300 years. Maybe the late philosopher Richard Rorty was right and the edifice of transcendence is fading, and belief is shifting away from a God of infinite power to a God of love and charity.
This very minute, other frenzied forces (political, technological, market- oriented) want to exploit or secularize the space. Religious tradition is struggling to thwart their violence. (Waddle, 2018)

Ravi Zacharias recently read the following writing from Nietzsche about truth:

“Haven’t you heard of that madman who in the bright
morning lit a lantern and ran around the marketplace crying incessantly, ‘I’m looking for God! l’m looking for God!’ Since many of those who
did not believe in God were standing around together just then, he caused great laughter. Has he been lost, then? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone to sea? Emigrated? – Thus they shouted and laughed, one interrupting the other. The madman jumped into their midst and
pierced them with his eyes. ‘Where is God?’ he cried; ‘I’ll tell you! We have killed him – you and I! We are all his murderers. But how did we do this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the spange to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Where is it moving to now? Where are we
moving to? Away from all suns? Are we not continually falling? And backwards, sidewards, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an up and a down? Aren’t we straying as though through an infinite nothing? Isn’t empty space breathing at us? Hasn’t it got colder? Isn’t night and more night coming again and again? Don’t lanterns have to be lit in the morning? Do we still hear nothing of the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we still smell nothing of the divine decomposition?
- Gods, too, decompose! God is dead! God remains dead! And we
have killed him! How can we console ourselves, the murderers of all murderers. The holiest and the mightiest thing the world has ever possessed has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood from us? With what water could we clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what holy games will we have to invent for ourselves? Is the magnitude of this deed not too great for us? Do we not ourselves have to become gods merely to appear worthy of it?” (Nietzsche, 1882.)

Jesus stirred the Pharisees into a fire storm about man’s ultimate freedom residing in His Name (John 8.31-47), the Word of God (Revelation 19.13). He said that they were sons of satan living out his lie (John 8.44; Genesis 3.5; Isaiah 14.12-15). King Solomon knew this centuries earlier when he wrote Proverbs 6.16-19. What are the countervailing truths to these seven “abominations”?

Truth reveals satan’s lies; even today! How does Hosea 14.9summarize this? Jesus said to expose the lie with truth, in John 3.19-21. And, we know that Grace and Truth wins (John 1.5; Matthew 16.16-18)!

References

Knight, Robert. July 17, 2018. Living in revolutionary times. onenewsnow.com.

The Holy Bible. English Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.

OliveTree.com.

wikipedia.com

Waddle, Ray. July 7, 2018. Seeking the God of love in ‘post-religious’ times.

The Tennessean. Nashville.

Veritas, Really! 180722
Praise God!!! Copyright © 2018 by Maurice L. Painter. www.sozoclass.com

July 15, 2018 Grace and Truth

Grace and Truth

I believe that these two words — grace and truth — are John’s summary of Jesus’ life on Earth. John chose them very carefully with the Holy Spirit to convey the essence of Jesus’ teachings illustrated with His seven, specific miracles. Remember that Jesus gives a similar summary when asked about the most important commandment. He gives two (Matthew 22.35-40; ESV) to summarize Moses’ Ten (Exodus 20.1-17) which became explained in the 27 chapters of Leviticus. John helps us to understand grace and truth as his summary in John 1.9-18.

John begins this passage with a bold declaration: the Word (John 1.1) Who has Life from which flows unquenchable (John 1.5) Light (John 1.4) “was coming into the world” (John 1.9)! Can you imagine? The Word Who had given Life and Light to the stars and their planets in the entire Solar System was, now, focusing His attention upon the one planet where we live (John 1.3)!

But, the Word was not welcomed with fanfare and dignitaries. Rather, planet Earth did not recognize Him (John 1.10). In fact, the small nation He esteemed by choosing them to facilitate His arrival did not even want to know Him (John 1.11). They were unwilling to “receive” His Life and Light, although they had been worshipping Him as “Name” for centuries and had, even, built a Temple in Jerusalem honoring His Name (Deuteronomy 12.11& 1 Kings 9.3). They had forgotten the meaning of His Name, just like they did with Nehushtan (Numbers 21.8-9; 2 Kings 18.4).

John continues to narrow the focus of his term “world” (John 1.10) from Earth to the Jews (John 1.11) to, now, focus upon a very select group: those who gladly “received” the Word into their minds, hearts, and spirits through their belief in the authority, power, and comprehensive benefits contained within His Name, which they knew as “Jesus” (John 1.12-14; Ephesians 2.8-9; Luke 1.31; Matthew 1.21, 28.18; illustrated in Acts 3.16& 4.12; Apostle Paul comments on “Jesus” in Philippians 4.19)!

So, the Word that was packed with power to create the Solar System collected that power within the confines of an earth-suit to live among those who, especially, did “receive” Him (Hebrews 2.14-15); that is, among those “who believed in his name” (John 1.12). He showed His authority and, even, distributed it as “gifts” to them (Luke 10.17, 19). He became their benchmark for understanding and separating fiction from fact; that is, Darkness from Light (John 1.16-17; Acts 26.16-18).

In John 1.17, the writer distinguishes grace from law (Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “grace”, definition number four). Paul writes the same in Romans 6:14. Note John’s contrast: the Law of God was “given” through His servant Moses (Exodus 20.1-17). BUT, “grace and truth came” when the Word visited His creation; that is, “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (New American Standard Bible, “literally [grace and truth] came to be [through Jesus Christ]”; John 1.14). Did you get that? Grace and truth had only existed within the Word, Who infused them into His created Adam (Genesis 2.7). But, sin corrupted them in the Fall (Genesis 3.1-13). This prompted God to “give” Moses the Decalogue for mankind (Exodus 20.1-17) until grace and truth could be renewed by their Author Who “came” to Earth (John 1.9, 14) for that purpose. Apostle Paul states the rightful relationship between Law and Grace in Galatians 3.24-29. Further, the Jewish priests were to recognize Jesus as their High Priest after the transfer of the priesthood at Jesus’ baptism (bapto in Leviticus 8.6became baptizo in John 1.31-34). In Hebrews 8.6-7, Paul differentiates the New from Old covenants, distinguishing further the Priesthood of Jesus from Aaron.

Easton’s fifth definition of “grace” helps us to understand the NASB version of John 1.17to be ‘gifts’, as follows: “Gifts freely bestowed by God; as miracles, prophecy, tongues (Romans 15:15; 1 Corinthians 15:10;Ephesians 3:8.)” So, “fullness” in John 1.16becomes observable and understood in all of Jesus’ teachings and actions {Matthew 10.7-8; Mark 16.15-(especially) 20; illustrated in Luke 10.1-19}. What are the six categories of Jesus’ fullness that come from a seventh which is listed first in Isaiah 11.2? You have received these “gifts”!

John writes that all who would, indeed, “have…received” grace from His fullness (John 1.16; 14.26, 16.14-15). “Grace upon grace” connotes a progression of our knowledge and understanding through sanctification (our becoming more like Jesus; Ephesians 4.13) and through the practice of each “grace” over time (Hebrews 5.14, 3.16-4.2). Remember the definition of grace as God’s word of  promise and His willingness to use His great power to bring it to your reality.

Each gift must be “received” (John 1.12) and used. Jesus describes the progression of our knowledge, understanding, and use of each “grace” in Matthew 13.51-52; that is, we treasure the practice of earlier gifts and receive and put into practice new gifts (including those listed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12.1-11). Thus, we know and understand God better through the practice of His “gifts” in our various epistemologies (Jeremiah 9.23-24; Matthew 6.33). This is His “gift” to us in our work (Ecclesiastes 5.19)!

Perhaps, John’s declaration that the Word entered an earth-suit (1:14) to show us the fullness of grace and truth is the first part of the “mystery” that Paul discusses in 1 Timothy 3.16and Colossians 1.24-2.3. Indeed, the “hope of glory” (v. 27), that is the power in a Christian lifestyle (Matthew 10.7-8; Luke 10.17; Acts 11.26) rewarded in eternal life, is only possible when we “receive” grace and truth by believing in the Name of the Word; i.e., Jesus (John 1.12; John 3.16)! He became flesh and dwelled among us (John 1.14; Hebrews 2.14-15; John 1.29-34)!

The second part of the “mystery” (Colossians 1.27), is that the anointing (definition of “Christ”; Easton’s Bible Dictionary) is upon and within receivers! This explains why Jesus commanded to baptizo new converts “into” the Name (“Jesus”) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28.19Amplified Bible) and to teach them the power of His presence (verse 20; John 17.21; Mark 16.15-20; Romans 5.1-5; 2 Corinthians 12.9-10).

This is the message that Paul wanted to make “fully known” to believers (1.25). And, because you and I have been baptized into the anointing (Matthew 28.19;John 17.20-23; John 14.16-17), we have “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2.3) available to mankind (1 Corinthians 12.1-11)! Consequently, Paul encourage us to not be deceived by accepting less than this anointing (Colossians 2.8-10) of “grace and truth” (John 1.14).

Perhaps, Paul was called “to make the word of God fully known “ (Colossians 1.25) as a means for unpacking what Jesus prayed in John 17.18: “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” Disciples must know that they have the same charge from God as the Son: 2 Corinthians 5.20; John 3.16-21; Matthew 10.7-8, illustrated in Luke 10.1-19; and as Paul states in Acts 26.16-18. Thus, disciples would also need the Holy Spirit to empower them, which Jesus initiates in John 20.21-22(Acts 2.1-4; Ephesians 1.13-14) and Whom Jesus emphasizes in verse 20 of Mark 16.15-20(John 14.12-14): we go, but He does the work! Indeed, this “mystery…in you” (Colossians 1.26 & 27) empowers Jesus’ statement of true freedom in John 8.31-32, which the Pharisees could not receive because they were thinking physically (verse 33; Romans 6.16) and not spiritually, wherein is the true power (John 20.21-22).

As John writes in 1.17, Jesus gave us “gifts” and is the life raft of “truth” in the sea of “darkness” (Genesis 1.2; Matthew 6.22-23). This is the “Light” (John 1.9) that came into the world (all three worlds: Solar System, Jewish nation, receivers of Him) when the Word took on flesh to dwell among us (John 1.14; Hebrews 2.14-15). Interestingly, the Light that had occasionally been experienced in the past (as in Elijah and Elisha) was now coming for all to enjoy (John 1.9, Philippians 2.9-11, Colossians 2.8-10).

Ever increasing Grace and Truth! [We will consider Truth next.]

Grace and Truth 180708/15

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2018. www.sozoclass.com.

July 1, 2018 Explaining the Incomprehensible

Explaining the Incomprehensible

This is my summary statement about the Apostle John’s beginning of his Gospel and its completion. He wrote a Gospel about the transcendent God approximately AD 85 after 60 years of reflection and teaching as Bishop (supposedly) of Ephesus. But, John did not reflect alone, as Jesus had described the work of the Holy Spirit in John 14.26& 16.14-15, which is a picture fulfilling the actions stated in Isaiah 30.21and Psalm 32.8. Conversing with Him is an example for our emulation, and the expressed depth of his comprehension should challenge our attentiveness to knowing and understanding God (Jeremiah 9.23-24). The following is my contemplation of John’s first several verses of chapter one.

“When all things began, the Word already was” (The New English Bible, John 1.1). “All that came to be was alive with his life, and that life was the light of men” (ibid, John 1.4; italics are my emphasis). “The real light which enlightens every man was even then coming into the world” (ibid, John 1.9; ibid.).

One conclusion that to be drawn from John’s musings is that the progression of knowledge to this date was already known by the Word before mankind ever began our journey of discovery of it. This includes the internet, AI, cell phones, the Hubble telescope, space exploration, etc. Each of these is the current iteration of discovery by a person who depended upon the successive discoveries of different persons in earlier generations and, perhaps, disparate epistemologies.

For example, Newton’s theory of gravitation was, in part, an attempt to explain Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, which were built upon the foundations of Copernicus and Brahe. “Kepler’s three laws of motion…were not just the insights of a brilliant geometer working from a few premises; they were also empirical—the result of a lifetime of data-gathering and model-fitting, building on the data painstakingly amassed by Tycho Brahe, an eccentric Danish nobleman with an interest in astronomy” (Stein, 2011, p. 21).

Stein presents similar collaborations for discovering the speed of light, the ideal gas constant, absolute zero, Avogadro’s number and the structure of chemical compounds, electricity and the proportionality constant, the Boltzmann constant and the laws of thermodynamics, the Planck constant and quantum theory, the Schwarzschild radius and cosmic space, the efficiency of hydrogen fusion, the Chandrasekhar limit and the burning Sun, the Hubble constant and the special theory of relativity, and Einstein’s general theory of relativity, dark matter, and omega. These “numbers that define our Universe” (Stein, 2011, Cover) have required the progressive discoveries and collaborations of many persons to reveal to us today what we know about each.

But the current knowledge of each and their future iterations were already known to the Word from before Genesis 1.1, as John 1.1states! He, the Word, is the One Who continues to enlighten each curious person in the chain of discovery by mankind! Could this search be among the “knowledge” Paul includes in Ephesians 4.13to mark our “fullness of Christ?” Similarly, could this “knowledge” be included in what God spoke to Abram about in Genesis 12.3? Of course, wee look back on this verse and recognize the Savior, but might God have also included the knowledge possessed by the Word, as in John 1.1, 4, & 9, since He existed before Abram? Was God’s plan for Jesus coming to Earth only to forgive our sins and bring us eternal life? Could our maturity (Ephesians 4.13) include our various epistemologies, as in Matthew 6.33and Jeremiah 9.23-24? Might these epistemologies be among the ‘good works’ that God foreordained for each individual (Ephesians 2.10), as illustrated in Jeremiah 1.5and John 3.27? The Apostles John seems to think so. Should not everything we, as Christians, do result in reconciling mankind (and our institutions and enterprises) to God (2 Corinthians 5.20)? Isn’t this what Paul writes in Colossians 3.17 & 23-24and 1 Corinthians 10.31?

So, while other Gospel writers include a fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies about Jesus’ birth, John begins before the beginning, even before Moses pronouncement in Genesis 1.1: “In the beginning, God created….” Perhaps John’s use of “Word” is like Solomon’s use of “Name” that was passed down from God’s pronouncement to hallow His Name in the Decalogue (Exodus 20.7). Solomon remembered what his father, King David, had told him about placing God’s Name in the Temple that David wanted to build. Solomon states this in his prayer of dedication of the Temple; 1 Kings 8.15-20. Verse 16is the fulfillment of what Moses had stated would be the place to celebrate the three important feasts of Israel; Deuteronomy 12.11: “…the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there….”

In 1 Kings 9.3, God states what would be meant by His Name “dwelling” in Solomon’s Temple: “‘My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.’” Notice in 1 Kings 8.30-53that God would hear in Heaven the prayers offered in or from wherever toward the Temple and would answer accordingly. But, only His Name, God’s unseen “eyes and heart”, would be above the Ark and below and between the Cherubim (Exodus 25.17-22). Moses regularly conversed with this Name in the Tabernacle (Exodus 33.11& 34.34-35).

John knew the Torah and understood it from the perspective of the HolySpirit after Jesus was resurrected. And, John, probably, reflected often on his days of walking with Jesus and on hearing His sermons and prayers, including the prayer he includes in John 17.1-26. In verse 12, Jesus says, “I kept [the disciples] in your name, which you have given me.” What name was given to Him; Jesus (Luke 1.31& Matthew 1.21)! Thus, John repeats Jesus’ acknowledgement that His name, “Jesus”, is the name of God! [Paul does the same in Philippians 2.9-11and Hebrews 13.8.]

So, from both the Old Testament and New (in Jesus’ blood), John names the Name (Deuteronomy 12.11) “Jesus” and told us that this was the Word that was from before the beginning of time (John 1.1) and that whatever knowledge we might ever discover (John 1.9) was already in the Name “Jesus” before He began creating (John 1.4). [Paul comments on this aspect in Philippians 4.13 & 19; everything through the anointed Name, Jesus. As Jonathan Cahn writes: “Messiah was revealed as the Lamb…in the place called ‘God will reveal the lamb…the provision for every need, every emptiness, and every longing of our hearts’” (Cahn, 2016, Day 170.]

Stein’s numbers only prove Jesus’ encouragement in Matthew 6.33to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

I would love to ask Newton, Kepler, Einstein, and the others the most important question from their research: how do you know and understand God better through your discoveries of His special knowledge about the epistemologies which He assigned for your study (Jeremiah 1.5& John 3.27)?Our “boast” should be about explaining the incomprehensible from answering this question personally at the end of every day, as God encourages in Jeremiah 9.23-24. We should know and understand God better each day.

In the last chapter of the last book that John wrote, Jesus speaks to us about the Word; Revelation 22.13: “’I am the Alpha and the Omega [Revelation 1.8], the first and the last [Isaiah 44.6; Revelation 1.17], the beginning and the end [Revelation 21.6].’” Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Drawing a line between them illustrates time, form beginning to end, from first to last. Between the ends, the Word continues to reveal the Cosmic Logos and the Epistemological Logos (Nash, 1982, p. 67) Who came to reconcile mankind to God (2 Corinthians 5.17-21).

With John’s introduction, we can begin to understand the fullness of the Word that took on flesh (John 1.14) to be like us (Hebrews 2.14-15).

Cahn, Jonathan. 2016. The Book of Mysteries. FrontLine. Lake Mary, FL.

Nash, Ronald H. 1982. The Word of God and The Mind of Man. P&R Publishing. Phillipsburg, NJ.

Stein, James D. 2011. Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers that Define Our Universe. Basic Books. New York.

The New English Bible. 1961. Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press.

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2018. www.sozoclass.com

June 17, 2018 Advance Man

Advance Man

The story of Jesus’ sojourn on Earth (Isaiah 7.14fulfilling Deuteronomy 18.15&18fulfilling Exodus 34.10, as Jesus states in John 15.24) begins with the pronouncement of John the Baptist in John 1.29. So, we will begin our study of the Gospel of John the Apostle in the same way. In John 3.27-28, John the Baptist (hereinafter, also, JB, for brevity) declares his knowledge of the purpose — that is, the Jeremiah 29.11and Jeremiah 1.5— for which he was born. [Do you know the purpose for your birth? Consider Ephesians 2.10, Romans 8.14, Colossians 3.17&23-24, 1 Corinthians 10.31. I will add more specifics from Jesus’ words in coming weeks.]

Do you believe in reincarnation? JB did not, as he answered those who asked why he was baptizing in the Jordan River near Bethany (not Lazarus’ hometown, two miles from Jerusalem; but on the eastern shore of the Jordan; “there is a place called Batanea farther to the north, and east of Galilee, which may have been the place John called Bethany” (The Apologetics Study Bible (Kindle Locations 87677-87678). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition). John understood that man dies a physical death only once (see Genesis 3.19, Hebrews 10.27, James 2.26, Luke 23.43).

When people asked, John the Baptist told them that he was not the physical reincarnation of Elijah (John 1.19-21). Their expectation was created when God promised the return of Elijah in Malachi 4.5-6. The purpose of his return in verse six is the same as what Gabriel proclaimed to Zechariah about the baby to be born to him and Elizabeth, in Luke 1.17. Did you catch the difference between the verses, written 400 years apart? Gabriel says that John will go “in the spirit and power of Elijah” but not be the physical reincarnation of him. [Perhaps, Elisha and Elijah illustrate this, in 2 Kings 2.9-14. Elijah’s ‘power’ is demonstrated in 1 Kings 17.1-18.46, the drought and, subsequent, defeat of Israel’s pagan gods.]

Further, God had proclaimed that His “messenger” (Malachi 3.1fulfilling Isaiah 40.3) would announce His coming (Isaiah 7.14& 9.6-7); thus, creating an expectation among His Old Testament followers (including the days of John the Baptist and, even, Jesus). And, Jesus would connect the “messenger” to John in His pronouncement recorded in Matthew 11.10-14and Luke 7.26-28. [Note Zechariah’s blessing of his son in Luke 1.76with God’s pronouncement.]

So, John the Baptist, ‘Elijah’, came to “‘turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers’” (Malachi 4.6). The importance of this is magnified in the remainder of verse six: “‘lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.’” This has been God’s complaint stated earlier in Ezekiel 22.30, Zechariah 5.3-4, and Isaiah 11.4, resulting in peoples being conquered by flood and enemies.

What is meant by turning “the hearts of the children to the fathers”?


Deacon Stephen (Acts 6.5) helps us to understand this phrase through his speech to some deceitful Jews (Acts 6.8-14) in Acts 7.1-53. He qualifies himself as a Jew by remembering with them the history of their favor with God from Abraham to Jesus. They were prone to forget God, like us, because of Judges 2.10and had not connected the arrival of Jesus to the earlier prophesies about Messiah. This is Gabriel’s point in changing the last clause from “the hearts of children to their fathers” (Malachi 4.6) to “the disobedient to the wisdom of the just” (Luke 1.17). That present generation was “disobedient” to their ancestors who had received the Decalogue (Exodus 20) and lived through the problems of Israel’s rebellion (captivity in Assyria, 2 Kings 17, and Babylon, Book of Jeremiah). They were, then, subject to Roman occupation. Thus, John’s warning was, essentially, that of Hosea (14.1): “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.” [We, fathers, must remember our responsibilities from Genesis 18.19and Deuteronomy 6.4-9.]

Further, I believe they had forgotten — even Stephen — an important declaration by God regarding His purpose for the Jews, to which the children should “return” to their ancestor fathers and, then, teach to their own children. He had set them apart, i.e., holy, to be a Nation of Priests (Exodus 19.6) for the peoples of the world! God’s declaration made it so! Perhaps without knowing it, Stephen proclaims Jesus as the expected High Priest, the Messiah (Acts 7.51-53) of this Nation of Priests. Paul would, later, declare Jesus ‘the Priest’ and connect Him to the priestly order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7.13-17; Psalm 110.4), because neither came from Aaron’s line of Levitical priests.

So, ‘Elijah’ was God’s ‘messenger’ to call the ‘stiff-necked people’ to repentance from their forgetfulness and to prepare for the arrival of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the highest priest, Messiah Jesus! He came at just the right time, according to Paul’s conversation with Him (Galatians 4.4-7; 1 Timothy 2.6). Just so, the curious request of some Greeks during Passover Week in Jerusalem to see Jesus (Acts 12.20-23) evidenced the need for God’s Nation of Priest going out into the world. [I believe their request was, also, God’s signal to Jesus that the disciples were prepared to assume this task (1 Peter 2.9) and that Jesus would go to the cross soon.]

How would anyone know that “the hearts of the children had been turned to the fathers’” teaching?God sent John to baptize in the Jordan River as one of two evidences of this, as Luke 3.1-14identifies. [This was like God’s instruction to Moses for the people in advance of His coming to Mount Sinai; Exodus 19.10-11. Also, Numbers 31.21-24are Eleazar’s instructions for washing before becoming clean enough to enter the camp after battle. Acts 19.11-20records similar evidence of turning from an evil past.] A second evidence would be the transformed lives of those baptized; Luke 3.10-14(how do these reveal the 10 Commandments: Exodus 20.1-17?).

John’s baptism was bapto and is contrasted with the baptizo he described from Jesus. John was washing the dirt off the people to prepare them for permeation by the Holy Spirit (John 1.33). This is, perhaps, like washing a cucumber cleans the dirt off and readies it for immersion in a briny solution to become transformed into a pickle. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in Jerusalem, as is recorded in Acts 2.1-4.

Believer’s baptism is not just ‘in’ the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28.19), which Name is Jesus (Philippians 2.9-11; Hebrews 13.8). Our baptism is ‘into’ the Name Jesus, as Paul states in Acts 19.4and Jesus in John 17.1-26, especially verses 20-23. Paul writes about the power of “into ‘Jesus’” in Romans 5.1-5and restates his conclusion in 2 Corinthians 12.9-10. He writes two additional Scriptures to emphasis this “into” benefit: 1 Corinthians 2:16: “We have the mind of Christ” and 1 Corinthians 6.19: “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God”. The caution and the treasure of these is reminded in 1 Kings 9.3: “’My eyes and my heart will be there [in Solomon’s newly constructed Temple] for all time.’” God’s eyes see the troubles that lie ahead and guide us to safety. And, He is forever nurturing the one He loves through the daily work of our various epistemologies. Be careful, therefore, what you show Him through your eyes and what you say about life’s challenges. Are “’all things possible’” through God for you (Matthew 19.26)?

John states another reason for baptizing, a most important reason, in John 1.29-34: to identify Jesus as the promised Messiah! JB states the method God gave for him to know who, among all those coming for baptism, was the Messiah: “‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain….’” Apparently, no one else could see the ‘Dove’. God had enlightened John’s eyes!

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn adds an interesting insight into John baptizing Jesus in his devotional for Day 153, The Priests in the Waters, in his, The Book of Mysteries. John baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River represented in water the changing of the priesthood that Paul writes about in Hebrews 7.11-16, 22; 8.8-13; & 9:15. For, JB was of the tribe from which Aaron was chosen the first high priest. In fact, both Zachariah and Elizabeth were descended from Aaron’s line (ibid, Day 66; Luke 1.5). “He was the purest and highest of Israel’s priests and the truest representative of the Aaronic priesthood.” (ibid, Day 153)

The responsibility of the priests was to present the lambs for sacrifice, who certified them as acceptable. “So it was Yochanan, John, who first identified Messiah as the acceptable sacrifice. He was the first to identify Messiah as the sacrificial Lamb” (ibid, Day 66) “who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1.29).

Messianic Rabbi Cahn writes:

As two high priests standing face-to-face, the old priesthood bearing witness of the new and declaring it the greater. The Aaronic priesthood began with water, as Moses washed Aaron in the waters of cleansing [Leviticus 8.5-6]. And so again with water begins a new priesthood, as Aaron, in Yochanan, John, dips Messiah into the waters of the Jordan. And so the torch is passed. The cosmic changing of the guard is complete. And the priesthood of Messiah begins…that we might be saved. (ibid, Day 153).

JB came to identify Jesus, so “that all might believe through Him” (John 1.7). Believe what about Jesus? John 1.17-18: that God is truth and that God is real (as we will discuss in coming studies). This is the “sin of the world” that Jesus would take away (John 1.29); that is, not believing that God exists. This is what Paul states in Hebrews 11.6. Jesus said the same thing in John 12.44-45, 5.24, 14.7-11. Apostle John would write about this, later, in 1 John 4.1-3; if Jesus has not come in the flesh, there is no evidence that God exists; this seems to be the argument. And, about ‘truth’, Pilate and the Pharisees reveal society’s confusion in John 18.38and John 8:44, respectively (note the ‘author’ of this deception; “darkness” in Genesis 1.2).

JB was different, perhaps for a reason. Luke 1.7&13tell us that John the Baptist was born in a somewhat unique manner and at just the right time and for just the right purpose. He was not a snappy dresser; no one wanted to share his foods; his speech was acerbic; and his message was unpopular. But, like a good advance man, he prepared the people who wanted a Savior and introduced Him to them. And, when his work was done, he was well rewarded (Matthew 25.23).

John 3.27, indeed!

Cahn, Jonathan. 2016. The Book of Mysteries. FrontLine. Florida.

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Praise God!!! Copyright © 2018 by Maurice L. Painter. www.sozoclass.com

April 22, 2018 How Much is Enough?

How Much is Enough?

        Three days had passed since he had asked the question and received the answer. Lots of time to think about what he had heard and to decide how he would proceed to acquire a deeper knowledge and understanding. But would he ever be satisfied with the depth of his expanding knowledge and understanding leading to a closer relationship with Jesus?

        The man was Saul of Tarsus; Paul of the New Testament. Jonathan Cahn writes that his names reflect the scenario above (The Book of Mysteries, Day 105, The Man Born to Pause and Ask). For, Paul is from the root word pauo and means to pause, and Saul is from the Hebrew root shoel meaning to ask. So, Paul/Saul was paused in his journey by the great Heavenly light and forced to ask, “‘Who are you, Lord?’” (Acts 9.5).

        Let us pause and ask why Saul would need to ask this question. For consider that he describes himself as “‘educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers’” (Acts 22.3). Gamaliel was a Pharisee, “grandson of the famous rabbi Hillel”, and “was noted for his learning” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary). “Paul was one of his disciples” (ibid). Yet, he asked, “‘Who are you, Lord?’” (Acts 22.8).

        Saul was satisfied with his head-knowledge about God, the God of the Old Testament/Torah; even of the curious prophesies of Deuteronomy 18.18 and Isaiah 7.14 & 9.6-7. But, like other Pharisees, his understanding had not made the connection with the works of Jesus identifying Himself as Messiah; John 15.24 (John 10.32, 37-38) revealing Deuteronomy 18.15 & 18 revealing Exodus 34.10 (Matthew 9.33).

        What is the similarity of Gamaliel and other rabbis “defining God” for Saul and “Pastor (fill in this blank)” settling our head-knowledge of God? While it is not wrong to trust “Pastor (FITB)”, should that be enough for us? Perhaps “Pastor (FITB)” had become satisfied with the limits he had imposed. What made the Bereans different? See Acts 17.11-12. (It is this writer’s prayerful intent that readers of his materials do the same with these studies, which is his reason for including sufficient ‘proof texts’.)

        We read many observers of society today advocating ‘life-long learning’ as the requirement for our future employable knowledge. Why do so few Christians apply this to their knowledge of God and of His Scripture? What was Jesus stating about the priority and sequence of our ‘being’ and ‘doing’ in Matthew 6.33 and Jeremiah 9.23-24? Could He be revealing the secret to our growing understanding of the epistemologies of our workdays? After all, Jesus is the Source of all human knowledge (Ronald H. Nash, The Word of God and The Mind of Man, p. 67 commenting on John 1.9).

        How can we be satisfied with our present understandings of God’s attributes of Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence? Does Jeremiah 32.27 no longer excite us? Why do we stop exploring the limits of Matthew 19.26c or Jeremiah 33.3? Why is our God ‘big enough’? We should be constantly exclaiming Jeremiah 32.17!

        Paul’s never ending search for the answer to his question, “Who are you, Lord”, was continually rewarded. He implies this in 1 Corinthians 2.4-5 (2 Corinthians 4.7 & 12.9; written AD 56) and Ephesians 3.20-21 (AD 60). He was evermore confident in the power of God which he continually discovered in the name ‘Jesus’ (Philippians 2.9-11) and encouraged that discovery for each of us.

        But, how much is enough for you?

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Praise God!!! Copyright © 2018 by Maurice L. Painter. www.sozoclass.com

April 8, 2018 God Speaks The Future He Wants

God Speaks The Future He Wants

The Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 45.23 to alert his readers in Romans 14.11 of a future certainty: “‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess [i.e., “swear allegiance”] to God.’” Paul would later reveal this eternal certainty as an ever-present reality in Philippians 2.9-11, adding in verses 12-13 his encouragement to personally apply the name “Jesus” to your circumstance [with the assistance of the Holy Spirit (John 16.11 and Mark 16.20 concerning Spiritual warfare)]. Both eternal and temporal salvation are God’s desired reality for man; see, respectively, John 3.16 and Acts 4.12 (in the context of faith in “Jesus” for healing in Acts 3.1-16).

Speaking the future He wants is the habit of God seen in Scripture

  1. To make the Earth a habitable environment for the earth-suit clothing His image 
in man (Genesis 1.26-28 & 7), God fashioned (refashioned?) the “void” by speaking into existence (Hebrews 11.3) light, water, vegetables, trees, fruits, fish, fowl, and cattle (Genesis 1.1-25 & 29-31).
  2. God spoke the future release of the Hebrews to Moses through a burning bush at Horeb, “the mountain of God” (Exodus 3.1). “Horeb” is “a general name for the whole mountain range of which Sinai was one of the summits (Ex 3:1 17:6; Ex 3:1 Ps 106:19)…a huge mountain block, about 2 miles long by about 1 in breadth, with a very spacious plain at its north-east end…in which the Israelites encamped for nearly a whole year” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).
  3. God trained the wandering Hebrews to prepare them to drive out the nations that were polluting His land (Genesis 15.16 & Leviticus 18.24-25 & Exodus 33.2 & Deuteronomy 7.1). What is the comparison with the polluted nations of today? Through Spiritual warfare, Christians are to drive the deceiving demons out and “occupy til I come” (Luke 19.13, KJV).
  4. God did this because “all things are Your servants” (Psalm 119.91; illustrated in Joshua 24.27, Exodus 17.6, Leviticus 25.55, Philippians 2.7.)

God repeats Jeremiah 1.5 and John 3.27, even, today. He commissions 
each servant He calls to let Him lead through them to complete the task He assigns to each. So, what task has God assigned to you?

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Praise God!!!

Copyright © 2018 by Maurice L. Painter. www.sozoclass.com