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.]

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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.

Advance Man 180603
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

March 18, 2018 The Power of the Spoken Word

The Power of the Spoken Word

I have sometimes stopped to realize that Earth is a word planet. Hebrews 11.3 tells us the materials and methodology God used in Creation. In Genesis 1.1, God creates the Heavens and the Earth. In Genesis 1.2, God redeems Earth from the “darkness” that had enveloped it (Revelation 12.7-12; Isaiah 14.12-15; John 12.31; implied in 2 Corinthians 4.4-6). That is, God took back the Earth and fashioned it through words to support His image in created mankind (Genesis 1.1-2.8) whom He posted on Earth for His purposes (Ephesians 2.10). We continue, today, to follow God’s example of talking with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3.8-9) to communicate information (Genesis 2.15-17), affirmation (Genesis 2.19-20), and disappointment (Genesis 3.10-11).

Solomon seems to understand that God uses words strategically, as he writes in Ecclesiastes 5.2: “let your words be few”. Perhaps, he was remembering his father, David’s words in Psalm 64.3 about people “who aim bitter words like arrows”. Solomon, also, was remembering that God spoke each intention in Creation only once. Jesus affirms this in Matthew 12.36-37 that everyone will be called to account for every word spoken: “by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”.

In Moses’ case, he became accountable for the words which he did not speak. Numbers 20.2-13 tells the story about God’s temporal salvation for the thirsty Hebrews in the desert. He would satisfy them with water from a rock! Moses was to “tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water” (verse 8). Speaking to the rock would, said God, “‘uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel’”; that is, teach the people to take God at His word (verse 12). How would telling the rock uphold the holiness of God? Wouldn’t just giving water be sufficient? John MacArthur writes that Moses “failed to take God at his word and thus to treat him as holy to the people” (MacArthur Study Bible Notes; my emphasis and is this part of the definition of “holy”?). Hence, the adage, as revised, becomes: God said it; that settles it; I believe it and will act upon it. If God says to speak, speak! Our responsibility is to carry out to the “jot and tittle” (Matthew 5.18) what God says. This is God’s “grace”, defined as His word and His willingness to use His mighty power to bring it to reality. This honors Him as “holy”. (To illustrate, sometimes Jesus, our example, healed the blind with mud, as in John 9.1-7, and sometimes with spit, as in Mark 7.31-35, but always in the way God instructed Him, as He says in John 5.19-20 {Luke 9.16-17} & 12.49. Jesus used words in each of these, sometimes only words, as in Matthew 12.9-13).

Further, God had told the Hebrew people that He brought them out of Egypt to be God to them (Exodus 6.6-7 fulfilling Genesis 17.7). Consequently, He is worthy of holiness; i.e., let Him fulfill His intentions in His ways. Speaking to the rock would evidence God’s salvation, God’s way. How do 1 Peter 2.9 and Ephesians 2.10 connect our words and deeds to God’s holiness? How is Moses’ story like Luke 10.17 & 19?

MacArthur goes on to explain that “Moses here failed in the same way as Israel had at Kadesh 38 years previously (14:11)” (ibid; the Hebrews had not believed God could take them into the Promised Land; so, God waited 40 years for the disbelieving adults to die; Numbers 32.6-15). And, Moses’ sentence was the same as the grumbling Hebrews: “you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them” (Numbers 20.12). Perhaps, in the heat of the moment, Moses had remembered and, thus, only repeated God’s previous instruction to give the Hebrews water by striking a rock (Exodus 17.6). At that time, striking the rock must have upheld God ‘”as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel’” (Numbers 20.12). Remember that God decides the better protocol for every situation. We must listen carefully and obey diligently. [Another illustration of God choosing an alternative approach the second time is King David fighting against the Philistines (2 Samuel 5.17-25; first, front; second, rear).] We will be accountable for following God as He requires in each unique context. Remember Jesus’ example in John 5.19-20 & 12.49.

Would Moses’ words to the rock have brought water, even though Moses had no earlier experience like that? Of course, for why would God so instruct him? This is just like God’s assurance of our capacity to “understand” Him in Jeremiah 9.23-24. How do we understand God better through His “gift” of our work (Ecclesiastes 5.19-20)? This was Moses’ opportunity. Likewise, it is implied that Cain was to “rule over
[sin]” (Genesis 4.7) by speaking words binding on earth whatever shall have been bound in Heaven” (Matthew 16.19 & 18.18 NASB) because God has given man the command to rule in the earth (Genesis 1.28).

Similarly, was Jesus speaking as God or as man in John 6.63: “‘The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life’”? I believe He was speaking as a man because of His use of “spirit” instead of “Spirit”. This “spirit” was breathed into Adam (Genesis 2.7) and passed from generation to generation by man (Proverbs 23.22a) through woman (Proverbs 23.25b). This is, also, the witness of Elihu in Job 32.8. The Apostle Paul gives some understanding of Jesus’ words being “spirit and life” in Romans 10.9-10, where he writes that our words profess unto salvation what our minds have accepted as truth [John 1.12 and Hebrews 11.1: “Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see” (New English Bible, 1961); Proverbs 23.7a & 4.23 & 10.19].

So, our words are powerful! They can bring water from rock and, even, move mountains (Mark 11.22-24)! Therefore, speak what you want (Matthew 7.7, James 4.7 & 5.14-15). Choose each word wisely, expressing a promise from the Bible. We will be accountable for every word spoken!

Additional points to discuss:

  1. How are Jesus’ words in John 6.63 like God’s in Numbers 6.22-27?
  2. We have the same problem as Moses, as James (1-12) reminds us. What 
powers does James identify in the tongue?
  3. How does he describe a “perfect” person? Why is that act necessary to 
fulfill Paul’s description of a “mature” believer in Ephesians 4.13?
  4. How should Matthew 5.48 and Numbers 23.19 add to our understanding 
of “perfect”?
  5. What from Psalm 103.20 and Hebrews 1.14 makes this important?
  6. Of what caution regarding our speech does Solomon remind us of in
Proverbs 6.16-19? How does this emphasize Jesus’ words in Matthew 12.36-37?
  7. How do Proverbs 13.25 & 20-21 summarize this study?

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

March 4, 2018 LORD!

LORD!

What have we learned about God from Genesis 1.28 and 4.7? He created man to rule on the Earth! Why? Because of darkness (Genesis 1.2), and God wants there to be Life and Light in His creation (John 1.4). Also, because God is Omnipotent, and people made in His image should rule as His servants performing His assignments (Exodus 19.6; Leviticus 25.42, 55; Psalm 119.91, 125; Philippians 2.7; 1 Peter 2.9). We might say we were created to be warriors… against satan’s darkness and his harm to people and the earth (John 10.10). We are not to fight with human weapons (2 Corinthians 10.3) but under God’s direction and with Word (i.e., Jesus) of His authority (Luke 10.17; Psalm 8.2 & Matthew 21.15-16; Revelation 12.11). His goal is that we win, as He says in Luke 10.19 & 19.13 (Revelation 2.7, 11, 17, 26, 3.5, 12, 21), and said about Him in Mark 16.20. So, we should not be surprised by His revelation to Moses that He is LORD!

Small word, LORD, but with a focused and penetrating meaning. It is part of God’s identification of Himself to Moses at the burning bush as “I AM WHO I WILL BE” (Exodus 3.14 ESV; my paraphrase of the meaning confirmed in commentaries). God seems to pick up this conversation about identity in Exodus 6.3, after Pharaoh has predictably rejected Moses’ demand to let the Hebrews leave Egypt to worship God. In this verse, God reveals two of his titles: God Almighty (Hebrew El Shaddai) and LORD; the first experienced by the Hebrews beginning with Abraham (resourcing the assignment He had given him); the second to be revealed to those enslaved through various plagues on their masters. Then, continuing this thread of conversation into Exodus 12.12, God explains ‘LORD’ with exclamation by telling Moses about His pending completion of the subjugation of Egypt’s gods through one final plague. So, should we understand ‘LORD’ as God’s title for ruling over satan’s kingdom and its manifestation in the minds, bodies, and circumstances of mankind since Exodus 6.3? Is this Jesus’ meaning in John 10.10 and Matthew 16.18?

The ten (biblical numerology for fullness of quantity) plagues and the demons they represented are as follows. The context for these is Pharaoh’s response to Moses’ demand on behalf of God: “‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord’” (Exodus 5.2). You should note the progression of God’s answer through the following plagues, from least (#1) to most personal (#10). Exodus 7.14-12.32.

  1. Hapi: god of the Nile; water bearer. Aaron turned the Nile into blood for seven days.  Pharaoh was unimpressed because Egyptian magicians partially duplicated this miracle. This was an inconvenience for the people.
  2. Heket: goddess of fertility; water, renewal. A plague of frogs because her head appears like that of a frog. The magicians also brought frogs into Egypt, but only Moses could make them leave. This brought discomfort to the people’s contexts.
  3. Geb: god over the dust of the earth. A plague of gnats made from dust. Because the magicians could not duplicate the gnats, they told Pharaoh this was ‘the finger of God’ (‘finger’ as in “grasping with” {Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance h0676; Exodus 8.19). The constant swatting was a frustration to the people.
  4. Khepri: god of creation, movement of the Sun, rebirth. A plague of flies because his head appears like that of a fly. This moved the plagues to a new level, adding destruction (‘land was ruined’, Exodus 8.24)—as well as inconvenience, discomfort, and frustration—as a consequence of Pharaoh’s decision. Now, he tries to bargain with Moses to remove the flies but so as to preserve his power and authority over God by dictating the terms and conditions. However, there were no flies upon the Hebrews. This is the first mention of God differentiating the environment of the Hebrews.
  5. Hathor: goddess of love and protection. A plague of disease and pestilence on cattle and livestock because her head appears like that of a cow. This plague was so severe that all of the livestock died. This devastation increased the
“ruin” (Exodus 8.24) to the Egyptian economy because it, comprehensively, affected their food, transportation, military supplies, farming, and economic goods produced by livestock. However, the Hebrews’ cattle and livestock were not harmed.
  6. Isis: goddess of medicine and peace. This is the first direct attack upon people was through boils upon everyone but the Hebrews. Not even the magicians could stand before Pharaoh; only Moses and Aaron.
  7. Nut: goddess of the sky. Hail that became fires rained down upon man and beast, killing all servants and animals that remained in the fields (Exodus 9.19, 24-25). It, also, destroyed the crops of flax and barley (Exodus 9.25, 31-32), which were not used for food but for clothing and in drink offerings to their gods. Through Exodus 9.16, God reminds Pharaoh that the Lord could have destroyed him and Egypt at any moment but had “raised you up to show you my power” as a direct answer you Pharaoh’s question, “Who is the Lord?” (Exodus 5.2). Exodus 10.1-2 states that the reason for showing the Lord’s power was to communicate to the Hebrews that God is above all that claim deity. He still is!
  8. Seth: god of storms and disorder. The locusts devoured whatever plants that survived the plague of hail (Exodus 10.4-6). Thus, God makes clear that He could, potentially, destroy their food supply. Pharaoh’s servants remind him that “Egypt is ruined” even before the locusts (Exodus 10.7).
  9. Ra: Sun god. The Sun was worshipped by the Egyptians. So, there was profound psychological and religious impact during three days of a “darkness to be felt” (Exodus 10.21), because darkness connoted death, judgments, and hopelessness to the Egyptians. By contrast, the Hebrews had light from God! Light for God’s followers; darkness remains upon those who disdain Him (Romans 1.21)! [It is, also, interesting that the number three stands for the Trinity in biblical numerology. Perhaps this signaled agreement among the Trinity and prophesied Jesus’ three days in the tomb.] So, to this point, the Egyptians have experienced their natural resources becoming unusable, physical discomfort from pests and boils, their economic livelihood destroyed, and, now, God plays with their minds (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). But, Pharaoh holds firm!
  10. Pharaoh: thought to be the son of Ra manifested in the flesh (false incarnation of the Son of God?); thus, the ultimate power in Egypt. But, the death of only Egyptian firstborn children—the next generation of leaders—would show that, even, Pharaoh was impotent. The blood on the doorposts of the Hebrew homes foreshowes our forgiveness through the true Son of the Only God, Jesus’ blood and John’s Revelation 12.11.

[Source: http://www.stat.rice.edu/~dobelman/Dinotech/ 10_Egyptian_gods_10_Plagues.pdf.]

Thus, God showed Himself LORD over all the philosophies of mental health, present and future wealth, generational progeny, and daily protection symbolized by gods of the Egyptians. Finally, in an ultimate act of LORDship, God defeats Egypt’s army in the Red Sea, at “Pi-Hahiroth … the mouth of water which faces Mt. Tiran, which is Baal-Zephon” (a Canaanite god; Google; Exodus 14.1). Additionally, read what God says about Babylon (representing satan), centuries after the plagues, in Jeremiah 51.53. This is a reflection on an event centuries before the plagues, in Genesis 11.1-9.

Likewise, the LORD shows His Omnipotence against satan’s demons through Jesus in the New Testament. This should be expected from Apostle John’s statement in John 1.18. Jesus’ manifesting God included God Almighty and LORD! God Almighty is seen when Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding feast (John 2.1-11), when He feed the hungry people with bread and fish (Matthew 14.13-21; 15.32-39), and when He taught righteous living, like in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

Jesus shows He is LORD through confronting religious leaders controlled by satan in John 8.44-45 and in reprimanding Peter for his words to prevent Jesus’ pending death and resurrection (Matthew 16.23). Matthew 4.23-24 and Acts 10.38 provide a summary of specific events, like healing the paralytic (because of his faith; Luke 5.18-26), straightening a deformed hand before unmerciful clergy (Matthew 12.10-13), casting out demons (Matthew 8.31-32; Mark 9.25-27), and raising from the dead a young girl (Mark 5.39-42) and His friend Lazarus (meaning “man whom God helps” {Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, g2976, form of Eleazar}; John 11.39-44). John (1.3.8b ESV) declares Jesus as LORD in his strong declaration: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” Amen! Praise God! [And, finally casting satan into the Pit of Hades (John 12.31), apparently condemned when satan was cast out of Heaven (Isaiah 14.12-15; Revelation 12:9-11)! Perhaps projecting this, Jesus’ Model Prayer states we should pray that God will “deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6.13b, NKJV)! Done!!!]

Are demons at work in our world today? Jesus’ Model Prayer states that they are: “deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13, ESV). Do you see evidence of the following? Paul said to watch out for them, in 1 Timothy 4.1, 2 Corinthians 4.3-4 & 11.14-15 (ex., Moroni’s visit with John Smith, Father of Mormonism), 1 Corinthians 10.19-20.

  • Astrology: “One of the oldest forms of the occult still practiced today is astrology. Contemporary astrology is a combination of what astrological cults practiced in Babylon, Egypt, and Canaan. In Canaan, astrology centered around the bull. The worship of the golden calf, child sacrifices to Molech, and Baal worship were all part of Canaanite astrology… In Egypt, God challenged the astrological gods of Egypt in sending ten plagues which directly attacked the authority of those gods” (biblesprout.com; Demons in the Bible – Different Types and How they Attack; google.com).
  • Witchcraft: “Around the world today, there exists a growing number of those who call themselves witches” (ibid). Robert Kamau writes concerning “belief is mystical spirits” in Africa: “Magic, demons possession, sorcery and witchcraft are among the mystical powers that should be counteracted and overcome… It is not surprising that the traditional African who joyfully receives the Gospel relapses to traditional beliefs when life gets difficult as they search for power to alleviate suffering… Spiritualistic activities are performed to the ancestral spirits to seek their favor and blessings for the power to live the good life that is full of wealth, prestige, status, honor and authority” (The Church and Culture; African Transformation Leadership, 1015, Oracle House Publishers, Ltd., Nakuru, Kenya, pp. 2-5).
  • Magic and Sorcery: “Those who practice magic [formulas and incantations] are under certain limits as to what they can accomplish (Dan. 4:7)… Closely related to magic is sorcery. Magic usually relates to accomplishing specific acts-such as rods becoming serpents-whereas sorcery relates more closely with calling upon demons to create situations around people. Thus the enchanter or sorcerer is one who uses incantations or omens. Their practices may have also included the use of mood-changing or mind altering drugs” (biblesprout.com, Demons…).
  • Necromancy: “’Necromancy’ is an effort to communicate with and interrogate the dead. As the Bible teaches the dead are unable to communicate with the living (Luke 15:27-31), it only stands to reason that those who claim to have this ability are lying or are themselves deceived” (ibid).
  • Divination: “Often this practice included the killing of a chicken or some small animal, and on occasions to observe its liver to determine the state of affairs and direction of the immediate future (Ezek. 21:21). Divination is an illegitimate means of determining the will of God” (ibid).
  • Secret Societies: You might Google for listings and descriptions of these. Generally, these are any group of persons following their imaginations that have been deceived by demons (Jeremiah 12.10).
  • What about theories of evolution, climate change, etc.?

The Holy Spirit continues identifying the LORD through Peter and John (Acts 3.4-8 & 9.40-41) and Paul (Acts 14.8-10 & 20.9-12). The LORD continues the instruction of Jesus in Matthew 10.7-8 even today. So, how are you following the LORD by carrying out Matthew 16.19 NASB and Luke 10.19 and Mark 16.20? How is this like Numbers 6.22-27 and Matthew 6.13?

The LORD still defeats the demons that deceive our imaginations from light into darkness (Jeremiah 13.10; 2 Corinthians 11.13-15; Matthew 6.22-23). So, storm the gates of satan’s strongholds with the Name ‘Jesus’ (Luke 10.17) and knowledge possessed by Jesus and with His faith (Ephesians 4.13 & 6.10-18a)! satan cannot defeat you (Luke 10.19; 2 Corinthians 2.14)! Philippians 2.9-11 is perpetually true!

Reflect upon Psalmist David’s contemplation of ‘LORD’ in Psalm 24.7-10:

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah

LORD 180218/25
Praise God!!! Copyright © 2018 by Maurice L. Painter. www.sozoclass.com.

February 11, 2018 The Essence of Spiritual Warfare

The Essence of Spiritual Warfare

        In our previous study (The Breath of Life and Light), we considered Elihu’s declaration that “the breath of the Almighty…makes” mankind understand (Job 32.8, ESV). Further, he declares that this “breath” is “the spirit in man” (author’s emphasis; Job 34.14-15; James 2.26). So, the spirit within man explains the knowledge we acquire from teachers and through our senses (Exodus 28.3). This is why children can demonstrate physics and calculus before they learn the rudiments, as in throwing a ball between them and steering their bicycles around objects. [Elihu’s use of “spirit” was that of man (Proverbs 20.27, Ecclesiastes 12.7, 1 Corinthians 2.11, 1 Thessalonians 5.23) as distinguished from the Spirit of God or Holy Spirit, Who was given by God to men individually in the Old Testament (Exodus 31.3) and is reserved for followers of Christ Jesus in the New Testament (John 3.6-7 & 14.26, Ephesians 1.13-14, Romans 8.14).]

        Is this true in spiritual warfare, that the spirit in man is capable of engaging demons before we ever learn the principles of James 4.7 and Ephesians 6.10-18? Consider that Cain apparently understood what God meant in His instruction in Genesis 4.7, ESV: “‘[S]in is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it’” (author’s emphasis). Cain understood “sin” and the picture of its pending attack. But, how was he to “rule over it”, as a human being? Ruling over it would occur in his spirit and be expressed by his words. Note that God expected Cain’s actions to be successful, seen in His use of the conjunction “but”.

        Cain’s success would need to be directed by his spirit, of which he may have been aware. Perhaps, his verbal or intuitive conversation with God (Genesis 4.3-7) was a warning not to give in to the spirit of jealousy (Numbers 5.14, co-conspirator with a spirit of harlotry – Hosea 5.4) crouching at the door of Cain’s heart (contrast Revelation 3.20) that drove him to kill his brother, Abel (Genesis 4.8-10). The spirit of murder was too great for Cain to rule in his flesh. Apostle Paul writes about this in Romans 7.21-8.8. Be strengthened by 1 John 4.4!

        How was Cain’s spirit to rule over the sin of jealousy? This is the same question that might be asked of the instruction in James 4.7: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Paul answers for us in 2 Corinthians 10.3-6 and Romans 10.8-10. So does Apostle John in Revelation 12.11, illustrated by Jesus’ disciples in Luke 10.17 (see Philippians 2.9-11, too).
We are (author’s emphasis; Genesis 2.7) meant to rule over satan and sin by the words we speak!

        So, God placed in Adam the capability to identify sin and to rule over the spirits promoting it. This may be latent within you. So, study 2 Timothy 1.6-7 for encouragement.

The Essence of Spiritual Warfare, 180211

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