Recently Jane and I have been re-visiting some of our favorite scriptures: teachings that have had so much meaning for us over the years. We’ve treasured so many. It is refreshing to study them again and look at them from another ‘angle’ if you will. We have been actively examining the Word of God for over 30 years now and find new and exciting truths each time we study. We have not become so ‘set’ in our thinking that we think after 30 years that we’ve come to the end of learning all we need to know about God. I’ve written before about how the first thing I learned about God that has held true for 30 years was and is His nature to ‘move’, and never stop moving, on the earth (and I might add move in our hearts as well). Even if we study His Word thirty years or a hundred years, we never come to the end of discovering something new about Him. You never get full, you just keep filling.
Jesus declared in John 14:6, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’. He’s also called the Bread of Life, Prince of Peace, King of Kings and the Light of the World. Each of those references is an important attribute about the character of Christ. Intimately knowing any one of those qualities would bring some sufficiency to our lives. But being the Way, the Truth and the Life is a higher order of all the things Christ is described to be in the Scripture. It’s the ultimate discovering of Him; there is some form of finality to it. I think it obligates us to a greater trust than all the other titles attributed to Him.
This knowing God is akin to the Hebrew word yada and is associated with the intimacy of Adam’s yada with Eve and Abraham’s yada of Elohim. Abraham knew God through a progression of experiencing Him. Abraham alone was called the Friend of God and had enough yada to trust at a level far superior to some of the trust we seem to display. From the unconditional land covenant with God, through the promise of a son, to the altar on Mt. Moriah, Abraham grew to know and trust at a level unavailable for the natural man.
The command of God for Abraham to travel to Moriah was interesting in its symbolic detail. The trip from Beersheba to Mt. Moriah was exactly a three-day journey, akin to Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Isaac carried wood for a sacrifice. (Jesus bore the wooden cross.) God called Isaac Abraham’s beloved son, the Father’s same reference to Christ of Hebrews chapter 1. Isaac came from a miracle birth, long past Sarah’s childbearing years (Christ was born of a virgin). Abraham was approximately one hundred and thirty years old and Isaac about 30, the same age that Christ began his ministry. In both incidences, a father and a son were party to both sacrifices. The son in each was obedient unto death and accepted their shedding of blood. Just as Abraham raised the knife over Isaac, we can imagine the heart of God as Jesus was led down the street to be abused and killed by the Romans. Abraham’s experiences with God produced a Faith that manifested itself in the ability to trust so much that he was willing to kill the son of promise, the dearest thing in Abraham’s life.
Truth is not composed of Scriptural mysteries and riddles for us to solve so that we come to a complete understanding of God. Truth is given to know so that we might have Life and have it more abundantly than with any other truth available to us. The Truth that’s attributable to Christ is one that uncovers the complete knowledge and wisdom of God. Many things are true, but they are not all The Truth. Yet, The Truth is the trump card in all matters and situations we find ourselves in. This Truth is something that pre-existed before time and one that will still be The Truth when time stops. This Way, Truth and Life is only revealed in the person of Christ. Before Christ all was incomplete, not having been fully revealed. Paul said that the Law of God, as glorious as it might have been, was weak in comparison to Christ. In Christ, Spirit and Truth merged. There’s a type of steel used in making the finest knives that’s called Damascus steel. It’s produced by laying layer upon layer of steel sheets and hammering them into one metal sheet, merging them. That process causes the knife to have extraordinary sharpening ability and strength. That blending produces something superior out of something that was somehow ‘less’ before the merger.
In Psalms 85:5 David asked, ‘Are You going to be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger through all generations?’ David in verse ten prophesies the following, ‘Love and Truth are met together, Righteousness and Peace have kissed…’ These are the four attributes of God’s salvation for men and they had never existed at the same time, they had never been one, in the whole of the Old Testament. The ministry of Christ produced that moment; it provided the fullness of Truth. Love and Mercy were merged together, Righteousness and Peace laid layer upon layer and hammered into One thing.
Christ is all in all. He fulfilled all; He was the beginning and is the end. The Truth is not just to be discovered or uncovered as some great puzzle, some trick that God is playing on folks for His own amusement. The Truth is found in simply recognizing the person of Christ. Paul identified with Christ in this manner: I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Truth is revealed in this yada (knowing) Christ. Truth isn’t something to be memorized or quoted only. The Truth is Someone to be trusted and believed in. While we struggle to learn every little dot and tittle, it seems that we are ever learning but never coming to the Truth. Shane and Shane have a song titled Burn Us Up. In it, we hear a familiar story; they raised their hands, asking God to save them from the fire. ‘You are able to deliver. You are not an image of gold! You’re the God of old. But, even if You don’t, we will burn!’ Are we there yet? Are we prepared to raise the knife over the most precious thing in our lives yet? Is the Scripture given that we might figure something out, or given that we might grow to know Him. Faith is a learning process, designed not for us to completely understand God, but for us to know and trust Him intimately.
“… I know there’s a God who knows my name, and a Son who died to take the blame. I believe Jesus is coming back ‘cause promises are promises and facts are facts. These days some say there’s no way to believe, just keep it loose, you’re free to choose. There’s no absolute, it’s all relative you see. So I’m calling all defenders of the Truth to live a life that spells out God’s worldview…As sure as there’s a law of gravity that says what goes up must come down, this is the ultimate reality: that God is, and God loves and God can be found. Well, I know there’s a God that knows my name, promises are promises and facts are facts.” (1994, Steven Curtis Chapman)
It’sfacts that I’d like to talk about in this newsletter. After all facts are facts, right! Little facts can leave unbelievers with little wiggle-room about the Gospel. Fact is the Bible was written over a span of 1500 years, over 40 generations, by over 40 authors, in many different places, on three continents and in three languages, and still has the continuity of God’s Spirit in it front to back. The following facts have always encouraged me to belief!
Have you looked to see the first words that Jesus said to us? Now surely, he must have spoken from the time that all children first speak, he must have been talking from about age three. However, it was not until he was twelve years old (and then the Holy Spirit of God provided only one sentence) that Jesus shares words with us. From birth to twelve- nothing, from thirteen to 30- nothing! His first recorded words are in Luke 2:49, “Why is it that you are looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” His first words can be contrasted with the last thing he would say: “It is finished.” What was finished? Jesus had finished the Father’s business! He had come to do the Father’s will and did it. Truly in these two simple verses we find that He really was the beginning of things and the end of things. The Spirit ‘highlighted’ the first thing he said and married it perfectly with the very last. The continuity of His Word confirms for believers that His Spirit wrote this book in great detail!
Do you remember the first words of Jesus at the start of his earthly ministry? At the age of thirty, he was baptized, anointed and then lead away for 40 days to be tempted of the devil. Not one word is attributed to him between twelve and thirty. However, the first recorded ministry words by the Spirit of God of Jesus were, “It is written.” Three times he says those words. By contrast, what were the last words Jesus said during those ministry years? He closed his ministry years with the prayer in John 17. Jesus’ last words on that last ministry night: “Thy Word is Truth”, “I have given them Thy Word”, and “I have given them Thy Words which You gave me”. Fact, the first words at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry were about the Word of God and the final statements of Jesus’ ministry were about the Word of God! Continuity!
The first question in the Old Testament is “Where are you?” God said that to show Adam that he was lost and guilty, to show Adam he needed something to redeem the condition he had gotten himself into. The first question in the New Testament is “Where is he that is born?” Where is this Savior that Adam needed? Where is he, that we all might worship him and serve him, the one that paid the price so that we would not be lost or guilty. The constancy of purpose is found in the Scripture again four thousand years after the first question.
The fact of God’s preference for the second born fascinates me as well. We concentrate a lot on the first-born in Scripture, but have you looked at the preferences God has for the second born? Abel was preferred over Cain. Isaac over Ishmael. Jacob over Esau. The potter of Jeremiah 18 was pleased with the second vessel over the marred first. God prefers the New Heaven and the New Earth to the present ones. Rather than our first birth (natural) He prefers our second birth over the first. The first Covenant was taken away, preferring the better New Covenant. Adam was the first man (born earthly); Jesus (born heavenly) was the second man. Imagine the grandeur of the Second Coming over the first. It’s a fact that second birth preference holds true from Genesis to Revelation.
The Word of God illustrates the ‘Fullness’ of God in a terrific way as well. We all know that God is three in one, or stated another way, the complete character of God is understood when we know all three attributes of God, not just a single characteristic of God. Look at Numbers 6: 23-24: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon you; and be gracious unto you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee; and give you peace.”
Three blessings to be ‘fully’ blessed? To be a complete work of blessing, yes. All three of the Godhead blessing: the Father’s Work of Blessing (Creator), the Son’s blessing of Grace (Redeemer), and the Spirit’s blessing of Peace (Comforter). The Holy Spirit of God reveals God in His fullness front to back of Scripture. The Lord appeared to Abraham as three persons. The Israelites were to journey three days into the wilderness to separate themselves from the slavery of Egypt. A three-year old heifer, she-goat and ram were used for the complete sacrifice. Full deliverance came to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The fullness of the Godhead is made up of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Genesis shows the Father giving Life, Exodus shows the Son, the Deliverer, Redeeming his people, and Leviticus shows the Holy Spirit empowering Worship. Jonah’s deliverance came after three days in the belly of the whale. It was on the third day of Creation that the earth came up out of the water, symbolic of our resurrection. Jesus rose on the third day. He was crucified on the third hour. At the sixth hour, darkness covered the earth. At the ninth hour, Jesus declared it was finished. The fullness of God’s character is revealed as being the same ‘yesterday, today and tomorrow.’ There are three gifts of Grace: Faith, Hope and Love. The full man is Spirit, Soul and Body. Temptation is composed of three: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. (Eve saw the tree of good and evil as good for food, pleasant to the eyes and would make us wise.)
God is Love. God is Spirit. God is Light. The Spirit, the water and the blood are the perfect witness to the Grace of God. Jesus ministry lasted only three years. Everything that needed to be said about him and everything that he needed to accomplish was accomplished in those three years. He fulfilled the Law in three years. Jesus raised three people from the dead. The inscriptions on the cross were in three languages (to show the completeness of the rejection by all mankind). God is: which was, which is and which is to come. The angels cry, “holy, holy, holy” in reference to God. The completeness of God is revealed in Prophet, Priest and King. Jesus has appeared to put away sins, is now in the presence of God to advocate for us, and will appear again for those that are looking for Him. The completeness of God is revealed in the Trinity of God from Genesis to Revelation.
One last little fact. While there are many words for deceit and lies in the Hebrew language, there is only one word for Truth. (There is and always has been, and always will be only one real truth!) The word is ‘emeth’ and it’s composed of the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet, the middle letter of that alphabet and the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Not surprisingly, in the Greek text, Jesus is described as the Alpha (first letter of that alphabet) and Omega (last letter of that alphabet). Again, consistency from the first Hebrew word to the Greek. As Jesus stated in John 14:6, “I am the Truth.” Facts, placed in the Word of God delicately by the Holy Spirit of God for you and I to “know there is a God that knows my name.” After all, promises are promises and facts are facts! “God is, God loves, and God can be found!”