January 28, 2018

The Breath of Life and Light

         What distinguishes justified belief from opinion? The investigation of this question is the dictionary definition of epistemology, the theory of knowledge, and one of the four components of the Nature of Reality (+ metaphysics, aesthetics, and ethics). The contrast of justified belief from opinion can be understood by the difference in the questions asked of Archangel Gabriel by Zachariah (Luke 1.18; opinion) and Mary (Luke 1.34; justified belief). The contrast can also be understood through God’s explanation of Israel’s problem (and ours) in Jeremiah 13.10 & 1 Samuel 8.6-7: God’s absolute words (justified belief) can become disdained by man’s imagination when it is devolved by relative philosophers (opinion). Jesus’ Parable of the Sower illustrates; Matthew 13.18-22.

         Let me focus this study further with the question: how much of what we call knowledge did God “breathe” into Adam (Genesis 2.7) filing his brain and given to him to be passed down to and discovered by the succeeding generations of his progeny? This knowledge includes the general knowledge about God that Paul writes about in Romans 1.19-20. This knowledge, also, includes the specific knowledge from God that taught Bezalel, for example, “to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft” that would become part of the Tabernacle, which pattern God gave to Moses (Exodus 31.4-5, 25.40). Might such general and specific knowledge be what Jesus attributes as an important purpose of the Holy Spirit, in John 14.26?

         The Gospel writer, John, writes in John 1.1-5 that the Word was the “life” that was “breathed” into Adam (Genesis 2.7; see also John 5.26, 11.25-26 & 1 John 1.2, 5.11). Was this what Solomon wrote about in Ecclesiastes 3.11: God “has put eternity into man’s heart [mind], yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end”? Job and his friends seem to know lots about God, and even eternity, before we have His revelation from Genesis 12 through Revelation 22. Specifically in Job 4.18# & 15.15# (2 Peter 2.4; Juke 1.6), 10.11-12< (Jeremiah 1.5; Psalm 139.13-14; 1 Thessalonians 5.23), 11.7-8^, 16.19^ (1 Timothy 2.5; 1 John 2.1), 19.25-27^* (Revelation 22.12), 26.7-10>*, 27.3#< & 32.8<*^, 27.8#< (John 3.18; Revelation 20.11-15), 28.5> & 23-28>^, 31.1-4#^ & 26-28#, 38.1-3^ & 40.3-5^ (before this, Cain had heard God, Genesis 4.7; so had Noah, Genesis 6-9). [Legend: Blue and # about Heaven and Hell; Purple and ^ about God and Jesus; Red and < about human body, mind, and spirit; Green and > about cosmology and science.] These are ‘justified beliefs’ and not ‘opinions’, as we verify throughout Scripture.

         “Light” was given him in the same breath (see John 1.4, then 8.12, 9.5, 12.46); light that cannot be extinguished by the darkness of satan’s kingdom. This “light”, too, was the general knowledge about God (Romans 1.19-20) and the potential of specific knowledge that would be given to individuals throughout the ages for the benefit of others. Dr. Ronald H. Nash writes, regarding John 1.9, that this “epistemological logos” of the Word is “the source of all human knowledge” (The Will of God and the Mind of Man, 1982, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ, p. 67). Like Balezel, we receive from God knowledge and understanding to carry out the purposes He assigns to us (Ecclesiastes 5.19-20).. The Holy Spirit within us takes from the Word (= Jesus) and gives to us the “knowledge” we must use [John 14.26, 16.14-15, Proverbs 20.24 & 27 (where ‘spirit’ is the Hebrew ‘breath’ and ‘parts’ include our thoughts)]. Thus, could Paul be encouraging our greater use than the estimated 10% of our brain power when he writes that we should grow our “maturity” into the complete (implied) knowledge possessed by Jesus (see Ephesians 4.13)? Should other teachers (ex. reading, writing, arithmetic, quantum physics, micro-biology, music performance, salesmanship, etc.) be added to Paul’s list of educators in verses eleven and twelve?

         Even Elihu knew that God breathed into us through Adam knowledge and understanding, which he states in Job 32.8: “‘it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.’” But, how did he know otherwise, for the record is incomplete about mankind knowing God after Genesis 4.26? [The book of Job is chronologically placed after chapter eleven of Genesis.] Elihu states that knowledge came through God’s breath. Therefore, we can understand John 3.27 and that it explains Jeremiah 1.5 as evidence of the servanthood of man in Philippians 2.7 that is illustrated by Bazalel, in Exodus 31.4-5; and by Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Peter, John, and Paul.

         God chooses specific ones of us for His specific purposes (could this be an understanding of Ephesians 2.10?). Some become teachers, some lawyers, some doctors and engineers. Others become shepherds of people or animals, nurturing even the smallest into God-sized tasks. But, it is the breath of God that has instructed mankind generally about Himself and specifically about their individual assignments. He, even, walks alongside us training and perfecting our service. How did Elihu know? Do you?

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

January 7, 2018 The Certainty of God’s Word

The Certainty of God’s Word

Isaiah 40.6-8  From time to time, Jesus will end my quiet time with Him with Isaiah 37.32: “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” I am, thus, assured that the matter we discussed, according to His word, will be accomplished in His time. The context for this verse is the realization by King Hezekiah that his army could not resist the pending attack by the King of Assyria and that only God could save the nation. God, even, gives Hezekiah an indicator of the certainty of His word by slaying 185,000 Assyrian troops in their sleep! Thus, God showed His zeal! King David had concluded the same certainty of God’s word and expresses this in Psalm 138.2: “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” The magnitude of his statement is seen in what God said about protecting His name; Ezekiel 20.5-10 & Numbers 23.19. Neither emphasis has changed — protecting His name and magnifying His word, for both are one (Matthew 5.17 & Isaiah 40.6-8)! What does this mean as we study Isaiah 9.6-7?

A.Prophesy about a powerful baby.

  1. Jesus was not just any baby, as Paul informed the philosophers on Mars Hill; Acts 17.31. Paul repeats this in Romans 2.16, and Peter states this in Acts 10.42. Jesus IS God’s Judge for mankind: John 3.18-19. This word is certain!
  2. Consequently, Jesus has been fulfilling Isaiah 9.7 since His ministry began, “to order [His kingdom] and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward, even forever.” He has been separating “sheep” from “goats”, as He terms those of John 3.18 in Matthew 25.31-46.
  3. Jesus states and demonstrates Matthew 10.7-8 for the same “judgment and justice”, even encouraging His disciples to assault “the gates of Hades” and “bind on earth [“whatever”] shall have been bound in heaven” (Matthew 16.19 NASB; illustrated in Luke 10.1-19).
  4. The epitome of Jesus’ power and “authority” (Matthew 28.18) is demonstrated when He captured “death” at Calvary (Hebrews 2.14-15; John 14.19; 1 Corinthians 15.53-57) and escorted satan to the Pit of Hades (John 12.31 fulfilling Isaiah 14.12-15)!
  5. These are examples of the zeal of God in the New Testament to fulfill the certainty of His word to Isaiah (9.6-7).

B. The power remains because His “government and peace [will never] end” (Isaiah 9.7).

  1. Totalitarian governments—i.e., social democracy leading to socialism leading to communism—are satan’s agents to oppress the peace from people made in God’s image (Genesis 1.26). Democracies and republics are biblical forms of governments that can include and encourage image-bearers toward His likeness and provide His peace.
  2. “The American Dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American Dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.” Ronald Reagan, 40th President
  3. “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.” –John Adams wrote this on June 28, 1813, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.

(kirkcameron.com/U.S.ConstitutionandBiblicalPrinciples).

  1. “George Mason was one of the Founding Fathers that insisted on the Bill of Rights, or the first ten amendments, to be added to the Constitution, saying regarding his decision that, ‘The laws of nature are the laws of God, whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth.’” (ibid)
  1. However, Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
  2. We must remember Jeremiah 13.10 and Romans 6.16 which only reflect but do not displace Isaiah 9.7: “of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.”
  3. People and their governments must, and will absolutely someday, align with Jesus’ government. This word is certain! Revelation 20.11-15 and 12 express the contrasting ends, respectively, for persons identified in John 3.18.

C. The personal nature of zeal.

a.  John 1.12 reduces the distinction of persons in John 3.18 to the word “receive”.   Eternal life is the subject there, as Jesus says in John 3.16.

b. “Receive” is just as important to salvation in this temporal life, as Peter states in Acts 3.16 regarding the events of Acts 3.1-10 and would restate to the Sanhedrin in the context of healing in Acts 4.12.

c. Zeal is personal and requires the evidence of faith to receive the word of God that is already ‘certain’ because God spoke it. It is the ‘hope’ in Hebrews 11.1. “Now faith” (without a comma) means receiving at the point of need.

d. God states His personal commitment to Hezekiah and pledges His “jealousy” (Strong’s Dictionary h7068; Easton’s Bible Dictionary for ‘zeal’ illustrates God’s jealousy in Ezekiel 5.13). The result was salvation for the nation.

e. Jesus spoke words with certainty, as He states in John 12.49-50. Note the everlasting nature of the words He spoke because of the everlasting Author. The same Author spoke Isaiah 9.6-7!

f. Jesus describes the Centurion’s faith as “great” because he knew the certainty of the word spoken by faith (Matthew 8.5-13). He ‘received’ the reality that Jesus spoke!

g. Paul describes the tenacity of perseverance required to receive ‘hope’ in Romans 5.1-5. Note, too, that ‘character’ is evidenced by perseverance grasping for hope!

D. Zeal in the certainty of God’s word.

h. God proclaims His certain word in Isaiah 9.6-7 of a future reality that began when Jesus was born. He states that His zeal will bring the reality in His time.

13. What ‘certain word’ has He spoken that you are willing to ‘receive’ in His time?

Praise God!!! Copyright © 2017 by Maurice L. Painter. www.sozoclass.com