July 10, 2016 Growing Faith

Growing Faith

In a previous lesson concerning “Life” and “Light” from John 1.4 (151108; Where is Your Hypotenuse?; www.sozoclass.com), we drew a rectangle and bisected it from the lower left corner to the upper right corner. This common hypotenuse of the resulting right triangles was used to describe how Christians become sanctified; that is, grow to be like Christ Jesus over time. The lower left corner represented acceptance of Jesus as Savior and a rebirth from death, without Jesus, into eternal “Life” because of Him. Traversing to the upper right corner represented a “life” increasingly committed to Jesus as Lord, a growing up into the “Light” of Jesus; i.e., sanctification or Christian maturity. We wrote ‘satan’ from inside the left vertical line of the rectangle with a large s and diminished each letter until the n was small near the inside of the right vertical line of the rectangle. Conversely, we wrote ‘Jesus’ with a small J at the left vertical and increasing each letter size until there was a large S at the right vertical line. On the outside of the right vertical line we wrote “Light” from the upper corner down to the lower corner. Thus, the light of Jesus becomes ever more brilliant over time from the new birth until the end of our lives (Proverbs 4.18). You might reconstruct this rectangle on paper, now, for use as we examine, as it were with a magnifying glass, the many, small vertical and horizontal lines that make up the seemingly smooth hypotenuse. This is what is meant by growing from “faith to faith”, as we discuss below.

A. Apostle Paul observes that we grow “from faith to faith”.

  1. He states this in Romans 1.17, connecting his thought to the statement from Habakkuk 2.4 that Christians “live by faith”.       Just as we grow physically, Paul says we should grow spiritually over our lifetimes. The hypotenuse represents such growth—increasing light.
  2. Paul writes about five years later, in 60 AD, that Jesus is the “Founder” of faith and its “Perfecter”; that is. faith’s best illustration (Hebrews 12.2 ESV).       From our new-birth “founding” (lower left corner of the rectangle) upward to the right along the hypotenuse is Jesus’ “perfecting” our faith.
  3. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, as Jesus described in John 16.8-15. The Holy Spirit’s work is accomplished in our personal relationships with Him (Romans 8.14; John 14.26) and through the teaching and encouragement of those He uses, as Paul lists in Ephesians 4.11-13.
  4. Why would Paul describe our Christian maturity as growing into Jesus’ “faith”, then “knowledge”? Logic might argue for the reverse, since the trivium of education says we acquire the facts of “who, what, when, and where” which we logically process into an understanding of their “why” before we know how to use the knowledge and understanding in some action of “faith”, that we might call wisdom.
  5. Let’s see this by magnifying a portion of the hypotenuse. We accept the salvation of God in Jesus by faith, resulting from understanding facts received earlier. We grow in Christ Jesus horizontally over time by adding facts about His life and work and adding our understanding thereof until we are ready to exercise these by jumping vertically to a new level where we repeat the process by acquiring new facts. This magnified view is what is happening along the hypotenuse of our maturing in Jesus’ “faith” and “knowledge”. Faith is required to acquire the facts; faith is required to correctly understand them; faith is required to act thereupon with wisdom.       This is as James (1.5-8) instructs us.

B. Filling in the puzzle pieces to see the complete picture.

  1. Paul writes in Hebrews 11.1 (New English Bible, 1961) that “faith gives substance to hope”. That is, the more we meditate on a verse or passage, the clearer it becomes and the more assured we become of it’s truth.
  2. This is the process that Paul describes in Romans 10.17 ESV: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Note the cautions about hearing in 1 John 4.1-6 and 1 Timothy 4.1. Remember, also, that “Christ” means “anointed” (g5547 in Olive Tree Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary). “Faith comes” through “hearing” (understanding of knowledge through meditation guided by the Holy Spirit; John 14.26 and 16.13-15) and “hearing” of the “word of Christ” (the “anointed” word of God; 2 Timothy 3.16-17).
  3. Each new level of “knowledge and understanding” becomes our solid foundation (“Founder” in A.2 above) for confidently climbing by “faith” to the next, new level of spiritual growth. From our new creation through Jesus (2 Corinthians 5.17), we grow to know Jehovah-tsidkenu (righteousness), then to know Jehovah-jireh (provider), then to know Jehovah-rapha (healer), then to know Jehovah-rohi (guide), then to know Jehovah-nissi (defender), then to know Jehovah-shalom (peace), then to know Jehovah-shammah (presence), etc.; a process like Paul describes in Romans 5.1-5 and Peter in 2 Peter 1.3-8.
  4. Do the declarations in Hebrews 13.8 and 1 Peter 1.20 mean that these characteristics of God also existed before the Earth’s founding and are to be discovered by us by faith?
  5. “Jesus” is getting larger and “satan” smaller as we progress through these “faith-knowledge” increments up the hypotenuse of our growing faith.

C. Stronger to resist philosophical attacks.

  1. The higher we climb on the “knowledge-understanding-faith” hypotenuse, the stronger we become to resist satan, just as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2.11, not ignorant.
  2. Thus, Paul writes the result of Ephesians 4.11-13 in 14-16, not tossed about.
  3. He repeats this with more clarity in Colossians 2.8-10, not traditions of men.
  4. God challenges the same in Jeremiah 9.23-24. The knowledge of God can be summarized as “lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness”. Boast in these things to express the understanding of your knowledge of God!       Then, practice Deuteronomy 6.4-9.
  5. The result will be a victorious faith, like John describes in 1 John 5.4-5! Faith overcomes!
  6. Thus, wisdom is the application of our understanding of knowledge. That is, the confidence of “how” to exercise faith comes from understanding the “why” of the knowledge of “who, what, when, and where”. We repeat this cycle in spiritual growth.
  7. The result will be John 14.12 and 2 Corinthians 10.5 and Ephesians 6.10-12!
  8. Indeed, the Gospel of Christ is the power of God’s salvation; Romans 1.16-17!

D. ‘Because, to me, Jesus is (“I AM”) _________, therefore it is possible for Him to be (“I AM”) _________ to me.’

  1. This is the statement expressing growing “from faith to faith” (Romans 1.17). It envisions a movement up the vertical axis of each incremental progress along the hypotenuse. For, “Jesus” does not get larger in you if you are only following the horizontal axis; that is, ever gaining knowledge and understanding but not applying these against satan to make him smaller in your life.
  2. This is Paul’s criticism in Hebrews 5.11-6.3. His readers were repeating the knowledge and understanding they had received (John 1.12) because they were satisfied with that level of maturity and power. “Milk” is the foundation upon which we add “meat”!

So, how big is “Jesus” in the rectangle of your life?

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2016. www.sozoclass.com

June 19, 2016 The Word, The Name, Jesus

The Word, The Name, Jesus

This study begins a series of studies about Spiritual warfare. A capital “Spiritual” indicates the participation of the Holy Spirit with our spirits in fighting “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (ESV Ephesians 6.12). Apostle Paul also writes about the weapons with which we fight in 2 Corinthians 10.3-6; they are spiritual, not fleshly or human weapons, for defeating “arguments” and “opinions” contrary to God’s word; see Jeremiah 13.10 for the fundamental cause of spiritual warfare. Our weapons—the name Jesus, the Bible, and faith; i.e., the war cry, the sword, and the shield—are spiritual; yes, even the Word of God is spiritual, as Jesus reminds us in John 6.63. We will consider each weapon in the coming studies.

Apostle John reflected, taught, and wrote about his experiences with and understandings of Jesus for the next 60 years (approximately) and three small epistles (AD 85-90; NKJV Open Study Bible) and wrote his Gospel from Ephesus (perhaps as late as AD 97; Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary) and the Revelation of Jesus from the prison-island Patmos about AD 95 (Open Study Bible). His writings present both the physical and metaphysical Jesus. John’s metaphysical presentation is important to connecting the name “Jesus” to the “Name” used for God in the Old Testament. I believe that John’s use of “Word” in John 1.1 is synonymous and the first in order—Word, Name, Jesus—as I discuss in the following.

John had moved to Ephesus after Jesus’ mother Mary had died, according to commentators. Roman Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96) had banished him to Patmos about AD 95 (Commentators). There, John had a metaphysical experience with Jesus. Emperor Nerva released him in AD 96-97, and John returned to Ephesus and wrote his Gospel. Matthew (3.16) and John (1.28-34) are the two Gospel writers who include John the Baptist’s comments about the Dove (of the Holy Spirit) coming upon Jesus at His baptism. John, prompted by the Holy Spirit, remembered this occasion and dialogue with John B and understood the metaphysics to include it.

Hebrews 11.1 from the New English Bible (1961) helps us to frame John 1.1-18: “And what is faith? Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see.” You will, also, see how this applies to Genesis 1.

A. John 1.1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

  1. s, remembering who we are from 1 Thessalonians 5.23 and what we must do Matthew 22.37-38, how do we fulfill John 4.24? How does Colossians 3.17 help to accomplish this?
  2. Also, the Word is purposeful, as in Galatians 4.4-5; similarly in John 1.13 and Romans 9.16. How does this explain Jeremiah 29.11-13 and John 3.27? Does God determine which egg of woman to fertilize by the sperm of man? The sex of the child? Purpose?       How does Jeremiah 1.5 help to explain John 1.14-18? What three purposes of the Word taking on flesh are discussed in this passage? (Verses 17-18 and John 14.9-10 explain why the Holy Spirit will not give new revelation of God; John 16.13-15. This is illustrated by Luke 16:19-31, especially verses 29-31
  3. Solomon writes in Proverbs 1.1-7, 23 that Wisdom gives the answer to every riddle and is available to us whenever we ask for answers. James (1.5-8) encourages the same! Note the requirement to obey and act on Wisdom’s instruction. If you ask in faith, you must act in faith!
  4. Solomon personifies this light as “Wisdom” in Proverbs 8.22-31 as being with God in the beginning and before the creation. Paul reminds in 1 Corinthians 1.22-24 that the anointed or Messianic (i.e., “Christ”) “Jesus” is the wisdom of God, truly personifying “Wisdom” and in juxtaposition against the traditional, existential, and utopian philosophies of Jews, Greeks, and modern mankind.
  5. “All the more joyous emotions of the mind, all the pleasing sensations of the frame, all the happy hours of domestic intercourse were habitually described among the Hebrews under imagery derived from light” (1 Kings 11:36; Isa. 58:8; Esther 8:16; Ps. 97:11; Easton’s Bible Dictionary). 1 John 1.5-7 and James 1.17 state this summation in the New Testament.
  6. John 1.4-5 declares this great light as being able to overcome every demonic philosophy given to mankind for deceiving away from God (Jeremiah 13.10). Paul writes about this in Colossians 2.8-10 and 2 Corinthians 10.3-6 and John in Revelation 12.11 [here the “Word” is the same Greek word as in John 1.1]! Note Jesus’ warning about preferring ‘darkness’ in John 3.19-21.
  7. How powerful is the Word? The inbreathing of the Word for life is the light that mankind needs during their walk through their years on Earth; see Psalm 119.105, where ‘word’ means ‘advice’ given by God.       See Psalm 36.9 and Proverbs 6.23 also. Jesus reminds us that we are to give His ‘light’ to the world; i.e., to reflect Him (Matthew 5.14-16).
  8. Remember, also, that there were two trees in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve were not to eat fruit from (Genesis 2.9). Why did the serpent/satan choose one instead of the other?
  9. How is the in-breathing of life into Adam (Genesis 2.7) like Solomon’s statement in Proverbs 23.22a? Then, John 1.14 is more easily understood; also Revelation 19.13. The Word is powerful, as Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 1.24!
  10. John 5.26 reminds us that God has life in Himself; life is a part of God, as life is of the Word and Holy Spirit. Jesus told Martha that He is the ‘resurrection and the life’ (John 11.25) and reminded the apostles of this ‘life’ in John 14.6 and the Pharisees in John 5.39. Jesus reminds us of the only Source of ‘everlasting’ life for mankind in John 3.16!
  11. How does this amplify John 6.63? John (1.4) explains that the metaphysical is life and gives life to the physical. See this happening in Genesis 2.7. The Word breathed life into man. Could this be one of Paul’s meanings in writing 2 Timothy 3.16-17?
  12. John 1.3 is the summary of Genesis 1.3-2.1, where “God said” and what He said invisibly became visible! Note the scope and sequence of “God said”, that Creation was progressive in detail and supported the purpose of God: mankind made in God’s image.
  13. Before the declaration of Genesis 1.1, the Word existed with and was equal to God, on the same level, as John 1.2 confirms. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance says “Word” is single and unified, like the Trinity of God.

Psalm 135.13 ESV: “Your name, O Lord, endures forever, your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages.”

  1. does the Psalmist reassure you when reading the famous statement of Soren Kierkegaard: “Life is lived forward but understood backward”?
  2. Likewise, Psalm 102.12 reminds us of the eternity of God.       As He says in Isaiah 43.10, there never has been nor will be another God and, in Isaiah 44.6, He is First and Last and, thus, why worry about pretenders (Isaiah 44.8)? (Overcome them! John 16.33; 2 Timothy 1.7; overcome is the common word in all of Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3.)
  3. How many names in Scripture identifying God can you list? Probably not as many as in the several books that have been written for listing His names.
  4. The important word in Psalm 135.13 for understanding the use of “Name” in the Bible is “renown”. It denotes an understanding from history. Specifically, how do you see God’s involvement in your life “backward”? This will change with time and circumstances of needing healing, finances, restoration of relationship, intervention with another, etc. Psalm 111.1-10 is such a remembrance.
  5. This is key to understanding Moses’ question of God in Exodus 3.13. What name of God would validate Moses to the leaders of Israel in Egypt? God’s answer in verse 14, “I AM WHO I AM”, interpreted as “El Shaddai”, meaning, “I AM whatever you need”, covered every conceivable understanding of God that each might have. And, God’s inclusion of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would establish His relationship back to the beginning of the nation. Psalm 113.1-4 exclaims praise for the summary God gave of Himself (“I AM”) to Jeremiah (9.24)!
  6. In Exodus 6.3, God collects His “renown” under the term “God Almighty” and explains His future as “Lord”. God would continue to provide for their needs, and ours, as “God Almighty”. But, with the abuse of His chosen people, God would deliver them and would use them to deliver the Promised Land from the abuses of satan through the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites, and Perizzites (Isaiah 14.12 and Exodus 3.17). In Exodus 12.12, God explains to Moses what He is about to do to Egypt’s gods, which is a picture of what He does to all “gods” who oppose Him! He IS Lord! Satan is defeated; God is exalted; Jesus IS Lord!
  7. In 1 Kings 5.3-5, King Solomon attributes the idea of a “house for the name of the Lord” to his father, King David and that God chose Solomon to construct it. Again, “Name” connotes the “renown” of many experiences!
  8. So, how limiting or expansive in your understanding is the “Name” when you say “God” or “Jesus”? Is that all of His power? Which of His promises have you not received by grace? Study those promises to understand and to gain faith to receive (Romans 10.17). What are you missing?
  9. What was God asking Aaron to do in Numbers 6.22-27? Is this what Jesus was asking to be done in Matthew 28.19 (“in” is more correctly read “into”; Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: indicates destination reached)? Do His words in John 17.20-26 help your understanding? How does the Holy Spirit living within you fulfill this (John 14.15-17; Ephesians 1.13-14)?
  10. How do Boaz’s and his reapers’ words in Ruth 2.4 fulfill Numbers 6.27? Were they saying, “The One Who provides whatever you need be with you”? Should you greet your believing friends this way? What pictures of this Psalm 127.1 present? Is this true of all our contexts? Explain.
  11. Does Jesus mean “renown” in Matthew 6.9 (understand “Hallowed” from Revelation 4:11; illustrated in Isaiah 29.23 and God in Exodus 20.7? How is Matthew 22.37 (Deuteronomy 6.5) the natural response? How is this done? 1 Thessalonians 5.23 and Hebrews 4.12 and Proverbs 20.27 instruct, and Luke 16.19-31 illustrates. Google ‘spirit soul body’ to view several drawings depicting interrelatedness. Paul presents an interesting connection of these in worship, in Romans 12.1-2. Note the importance of your spirit in Proverbs 20.27.
  12. What will you do this week to become more aware of the “renown” of God to you and others? I might suggest making a list of such observations to share “where God showed up this week and showed off”. Share these with others for comparison and encouragement.

C. Jesus, Name above all Names!

  1. This is Paul’s declaration in Philippians 2.9-11. Note that the name “Jesus” is “Anointed”, which is the meaning of “Christ” [Greek: “Christos” means “Christ” when used in a Gentile context (here) or “Messiah” when used in a Jewish context (1 John 2.22); Apologetics Bible].
  2. Paul tells us in Galatians 4.4 that Jesus was born according to God’s timing, prophesied in Deuteronomy 18.18 and Isaiah 7.14 and 9.6-7, fulfilling Exodus 34.10.
  3. God instructed Mary and Joseph, separately, to name God’s Son “Jesus”; see Luke 1.31 and Matthew 1.21, respectively.
  4. Why “Jesus”?       Jesus, Himself, answers in His Lord’s Prayer in John 17.6 and 11-12a: “Jesus” is the name of the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; see Matthew 28.19 (“into”) & John 1.14, 17-18)! How does Hebrews 13.8 validate this?
  5. Thus, “Jesus Christ” means the anointed name “Jesus”! This name, “Jesus”, has the full significance of “the Name” (“renown” in B.4, 6; see Acts 10.38) used in the Old Testament and which “became flesh” (John 1.14; Philippians 2.7-8; Hebrews 2.14-15).
  6. Consequently, Paul continues the emphasis of Philippians 2.9-11 into the reader’s actions in verses 12 and 13. God works in us “to will”; i.e., as Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines: Greek for “will” is “thelō: to determine as an active option from subjective impulse [meaning, to choose; contrast passive]”. God works in us “to choose” what pleases Him, like Jesus said to pray in Matthew 6.10 and God expressed in Jeremiah 9.23-24; then, “to do for His good pleasure”.
  7. An illustration of such choice is God’s instruction to Cain in Genesis 4.7: sin is at your door, and you must rule over it [my paraphrase; Genesis 1.26]. This IS Spiritual warfare! See 1 John 3.8b and John 16.11. This is what Jesus prayed in John 17.18: that believers will continue doing what I have been doing. See Ephesians 2.10 and Mark 16.15-20.
  8. It is interesting that the Hebrew for “door” in Genesis 4.7 and the Greek for “door” in Revelation 3.20 have the same meaning. From our early study about the devotion of the Christian church as seen through the regressive sequence in Jesus’ letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2-3, we learned that Jesus’ standing at the door represented His plea for just one believer in Laodicea to open the door from the inside to invite Him into the church. Our personalizing of this is appropriate to understanding God’s warning to Cain in Genesis 4.7: rule over the spiritual enemy that stands at the door to your mind wanting you to accept it (like the present push by the LBGT community to affirm their lifestyle, against Scripture). You might, also, read Solomon’s warnings about adultery in Proverbs 1-10 from the same meaning of spiritual warfare. You can see the same warning in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.18-22.
  9. Cain (Genesis 4.7) was capable of ruling over sin because he had knowledge of God through the testimony of Adam and Eve, especially in contrast to their condition after the ‘fall’. Cain was capable of understanding God, just as Abel had come to understand God enough to truly worship Him. Now, then, all Cain needed to do was to apply his understanding of his knowledge against the sin that was waiting to trap him.       This is the ‘trivium of education’: grammar/knowledge; logic/understanding; and rhetoric/wisdom.       Knowledge of ‘who, what, when, and where’ gives enough information. Reflection/meditation thereupon gives the ‘why’ of understanding. Wisdom is the ‘how’ application of such knowledge and understanding within or against a circumstance, as in the following example.
  10. We are to use the anointed name “Jesus” as our war cry in Spiritual warfare with the same results as the 72 disciples who reported to Jesus in Luke 10.17-19! (Verse 18 is explained in Revelation 12.7-12.) Pay attention to Jesus’ response in verse 19. We have that authority and promise, too, as Jesus prayed in John 17.18! It is for anyone who believes John 3.16 and 14.6. See what happens when non-believers use the ‘war cry’ in Acts 19.11-17.
  11. Use the anointed name “Jesus” as one of the Spiritual weapons Paul alludes to in 2 Corinthians 10.4-6! Don’t pray that God oppose satan for you.       You must oppose satan Philippians 2.12) with your ‘war cry’ (and ‘sword’, ‘shield’, while continually communicating with the Holy Spirit through ‘prayer’). This was Jesus’ example for us in Mark 9.25 and Paul’s instruction in Philippians 2.13.
  12. You have been given the Name above every name in satan’s kingdom; Luke 10.19. Now, use it and give God praise! See Revelation 12.11! Jesus did His part and expects you to do yours.

Takeaways thus far:

  1. The “Word” existed with God before the Creation and acted as Creator.       Sect. A.
  2. The metaphysical Word took on flesh to reveal grace, truth, and God to man. Sect. A.
  3. The Word is all powerful, as manifested by Jesus (Acts 10.38).       Sect. A.
  4. The “Name” is a summation of all of mankind’s experiences of God, the Word (John 1.1). We see Him when we remember/reflect upon the history of our lives. Sect. B.
  5. The Name IS the best blessing given by one to another. Sect. B.
  6. “Jesus” is the anointed “Name” of God and full of His renown. Sect. C.
  7. Jesus, the “Word” that took on flesh, has all authority, everywhere (Matthew 28.18). Sect. C.
  8. The anointed “Jesus” is with you to do great works (John 14.12-14; Ephesians 2.10)! Sect. C.

What part does “faith” play in Spiritual warfare? We begin to consider that in the next study. You should review Romans 1.16-17, which may be our initial text. Hope you enjoy!

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2016. www.sozoclass.com.