Monday, June 25, 2007

Dig In

Jesus says in his prayer for us in John 17:8, “For the [uttered] words that You gave Me I have given them; and they have received and accepted [them] and have come to know positively and in reality [to believe with absolute assurance] that I came forth from Your presence; and they have believed and are convinced that You did send Me.”

Jesus did a perfect job of delivering all that God intended Him to deliver, yet we are told that he often spoke in parables and “dark sayings,” and also that He was sometimes deliberately obscure, so that only those “who had ears to hear” could understand.

Therefore, it is puzzling that Christians as a general rule feel that Jesus made everything we need to know absolutely clear and even written down in such a way that it should be perfectly understood.

In John 16:12, Jesus says, “I have still many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them or to take them upon you or to grasp them now.”

Dallas Willard, in his book, “The Divine Conspiracy” p 293, makes an interesting observation concerning the cost following Christ. On the passage in Luke 14:26-27, 33 where Jesus says one must “hate” their family and even their own life, and take up their cross etc. forsaking everything or they “cannot be my disciple”. He (DW) says, “The entire point of this passage is that as long as one thinks anything may really be more valuable than fellowship with Jesus in his kingdom, one cannot learn from him. People who have not gotten the basic facts about their life straight will therefore not do the things that make learning from Jesus possible and will never be able to understand the basic points in the lessons to be learned. It is like a mathematics teacher in high school who might say to a student, ‘Verily verily I say unto thee, except thou canst do decimals and fractions, thou canst in no wise do algebra.’”

There is a lot of pressure on followers of Christ to not go any deeper than the surface. Anyone who has a desire to do so will suffer persecution from those who do not. They will be accused of thinking they are more spiritual or know more than others. The truth is that we are expected to gain a better and deeper, and more complete understanding, knowledge of and relationship with God as we go through life. If this were not the case, why would Jesus have gone on to say, in John 16:15, “But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future]. He will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.”

This passage supports the fact that the Holy Spirit was given in order to take us higher and deeper in the things of God.
Christians seem so afraid of being led in to error or deception that they don’t want to look any deeper into the things of God than what is on the surface, but there is a spirit to the word of God, and we are meant to look into it with the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit to learn about the ever widening circles of Gods purpose in creation. To fail to do this is to remain spiritually infantile.

The book of Hebrews indicates support for a deeper level of understanding of God’s word. Not only is the whole book of Hebrews full of references to types and antitypes, but as it states in the introduction to this book (in the Amplified) that “better” is a key work in the entire book of Hebrews. Jesus is a better spokesman for God that the prophets; we have a better intercessor, a better priest, a better covenant etc. So we are encouraged by the book of Hebrews to look for deeper meanings and the larger antitypes to which the types direct us.

Chapter 6 of Hebrews directs us to better promises. Verse one says, “Therefore, let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity.”

And what is he referring to when he talks about the elementary things. This is made clear in the next sentence of the same verse. "Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God, with teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment."

This is amazing! When have we ever got much deeper than these things? To most Christians, these are the height, depth and breadth of deep as it gets, and should we do as it says in Hebrews 6:3, and proceed [to advanced teaching.] We will be called heretics and worse.

If your three year old asked you how babies are made, you might give a very simple answer and it would be sufficient for their level of interest and understanding. But at higher levels of maturity greater levels of understanding must come into play. Not only that, but sometimes the answers given to a three year old have been more than simplified… to the point that while they satisfied a three year old, they are false… for example….”Mommy has to go to the hospital to get the new baby.”….might be a true statement, but it isn’t a true answer.

We are far too quick to say, “Now we see through a glass darkly,” (1 Corinthians 13:12) and to dismiss even the idea of a better understanding, and it’s true…we don’t see with perfect understanding. But that doesn’t mean we should not look for increasing enlightenment because the Bible also says “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18

I wish we had more of Jesus’ words. I wish we had recorded, what he told the two on the road to Emmaus. I wish we could have studied with Paul in his personal university of the Holy Spirit. But there is no use complaining about what, for reasons known to God, He has not given allowed us to see. He has promised us the Holy Spirit as our tutor, and said that, “He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth)”. And we don’t need to fear that He will lead us away from the teachings of Christ. He will broaden and expand and make them more comprehensible. It is God’s plan and desire that we grow into full maturity.

1 comment:

mamazee said...

love this one, mama..
i loved Tolstoy's idea of making a Bible just out of Jesus' words. Not that it would do away with all the rest, but just to be able to see them all on their own, what He truly said, without all the cultural stuff that tells us how to interpret it.
I'm really struggling with my view of who He is lately. Not struggling in a bad way, but i know i'm not there and it's frustrating, bcz i want to KNOW and to BE right. But maybe what He wants from me is the desire to know Him, and HE is allowing these hard circumstances to come up in my life so that i will try what i know and see if it's so, like the Bereans.. anyway, now that the company's all gone, it's time to get posting some more!
love you,