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”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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?
- “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.
- 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.
- Thus, Paul writes the result of Ephesians 4.11-13 in 14-16, not tossed about.
- He repeats this with more clarity in Colossians 2.8-10, not traditions of men.
- 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.
- The result will be a victorious faith, like John describes in 1 John 5.4-5! Faith overcomes!
- 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.
- The result will be John 14.12 and 2 Corinthians 10.5 and Ephesians 6.10-12!
- 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.’
- 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.
- 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