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.

Advance Man 180603
Praise God!!! Copyright © 2018 by Maurice L. Painter. www.sozoclass.com