Distractions Part Five, A Split God

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NASB95)

 

We have to talk about God being One because a main tool used to distract from, eliminate or severely prune the Law is to cast it as a different message from another God. It’s as if Jesus and the Father were two separate gods kind of at loggerheads with each other. If a person wants to dodge the Law he can pretend it came from someone who either changed His mind or didn’t mean what He said in the first place. We also have to talk about this because there is a big group of people who advocate for the Law in a believer’s life yet deny the deity of Jesus.

 

You may already accept that God and Jesus are one, but you may not realize exactly what it means. The church tends to skip over that part. For instance, if God and Jesus are one, then Jesus gave the Law at Sinai. So when He tells us in Matthew 28 to teach the disciples “all I commanded,” it includes the Law that He “filled up full” or fulfilled.

 

guernica

 

A cubist painting looks like it has been cut up and put back together out of order. You know, the nose is where the ear is supposed to be, and the eyes are not lined up. Every part is out of place (Like Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica,” pictured above). The picture of God painted by the modern church now looks sort of cubist. God is variously described as a fierce, distant and unfriendly god, or a buddy from out of town who winks at sin. He’s either a god of cloud and flame and lightening, or a pacifist hippie flower child who spouts one-liners about peace and love.

 

We use artistic license like cubism to interpret the patterns in the Word and make a picture that doesn’t even resemble the original. One pattern is for Jews and another is for the church. This part is for me and that part is for you. There are “old” and “new” god models. The old god is supposed to be a severe, demanding god of bloody sacrifices and death. The new god is a sweet guy who looks the other way when we sin. The old god beat us up with rules we couldn’t obey and restricts what we eat. The new god came to change all the stuff the old god gave us, and died so we could eat a ham sandwich. We have created, as Dr. Michael Brown says, a “worldly, cultural Christianity” with a “Jesus who radically empowers us” rather that a “Jesus who radically changes us.” I agree with him that “that’s why we have ‘Christian’ lingerie models and ‘Christian’ rappers who frequent strip clubs.”

 

The picture of God is critical to faith. When we paint Him as capricious, powerful and judgmental, giving us laws we could never obey, we can’t trust Him or do what He says. On the other hand when we paint Him with the color of sentiment (without justice or holiness) our false picture might let us do what we want even if it kills us. But it isn’t love.

 

From the book Whole Bible Christianity a draft of which is available to read at www.wholebible.com/Whole_Bible_Christianity.htm

Maturity and the Gifts

One thing I have observed from the Word is that every biblical record of a person exercising the power of the Spirit was a mature believer, who had been in the Word and discipleship for a long time. It seems plain to me from these testimonies that the power of the Spirit comes on the heels of an intimate relationship with the Father fostered by a deep study of, and obedience to, the Word of God. One possible exception is Balaam’s donkey, but she wasn’t a person and I think this just demonstrates that the Father can use any vessel He chooses. And don’t get me started on the puns I can make from this. Ass me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies. Another possible exception might be Cornelius in Acts 10, but it is clear from the context that he has been at it a long time. It doesn’t appear to me from the Word that ‘rookies’ had a great deal to do with relaying the power of God.

What Will You Say?

But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the churches and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. (Luke 21:12–19, ESV)

One word in the above verses has been changed. Can you guess which one it is? And does it make a difference in how you think? Why or why not?

Pentecost 2013

Pentecost is a time for celebrating the gospel given at Mt. Sinai and the Spirit given after the resurrection of the Christ. The good news at Sinai was that God was going to be with us. He gave His Law as part of the preparation. The Spirit accompanies His Law because the Law is truth. God is indeed with us in Truth. Let us celebrate the reversal of the banishment from His presence with His Spirit in a heart of flesh walking in His statutes, keeping His rules, and obeying them.

Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. (Psalm 119:142, ESV)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:16–17, ESV)

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19–20, ESV)

Pentecost at Sinai

Of flames, clouds, shining faces, and God’s voice.

Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. (Exodus 24:15–17, ESV)

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. (Exodus 34:29, ESV)

And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom. Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone. (Deuteronomy 4:11–13, ESV)

(On Horeb, the mountain of God.)
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:11–13, AV)

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:1–5, ESV)

Presence of the Holy Spirit

From ‘Whole Bible Christianity’ chapter 3 section on The Presence of the Holy Spirit

Some argue that the Spirit didn’t ‘fill’ or ‘dwell in’ believers until the first Pentecost (Hebrew Shavuot) after the resurrection of the Messiah. But even a quick look at the Word proves this to be false. The list of people in the OT directly said to be filled with and/or led by the Spirit is long and distinguished. It is clear in the plain meaning of the text that there is very little difference, if any at all, between leading and filling.

Bezalel (Exodus 31:3 and 35:31)
Moses and the 70 Elders (Numbers 11:17, 25, 26, 29)
Balaam (Numbers 24:2)
Joshua (Numbers 27:18 and Deuteronomy 34:9)
Othniel son of Joshua (Judges 3:10)
Gideon (Judges 6:34)
Jephthah (pronounced Yayftah – Judges 11:29)
Samson (Judges 13:25, 14:6&19, 15:14)
King Saul (1 Samuel 10:6, 10, 11:6)
King David (1 Samuel 16:13)
Messengers of Saul (I Samuel 19:20)
Amasai, chief of the 30 (1 Chronicles 12:18)
Azariah son of Obed (2 Chronicles 15:1)
Jahaziel (2 Chronicles 20:14)
The Branch (Isaiah 11:2); My Servant (Isaiah 42:1); the Anointed (Isaiah 61:1)
The people of Israel (Isaiah 63:11)
Ezekiel (Ezekiel. 2:2, 3:12, 14, 24, 11:5)
Micah (Micah 3:8)
Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people of the land (Haggai 2:5)
The former prophets (Zechariah 7:12)

There are also a number of Scriptures that explicitly state that Old Testament saints had the Spirit (such as Isaiah 63:10-14; 1 Peter 1:11). The presence of the Spirit is not marked only by speaking in other languages or with miraculous actions, or even by prophetic signs and utterances. His primary mark is on a heart that responds to God in trusting and loving obedience. God’s Spirit is all around and works to varying degrees depending on the willingness of people to work with Him.

He may sometimes work in spectacular ways, but that is not the only way He works. For instance, He can be present without salvation, as He is in creation. He makes seeds grow and keeps air on our planet with gravity. The planets revolve and orbit the sun by His hand. The only place He has trouble getting His way is in the human heart.

Pentecost and Sinai

A few days ago, we posted from Exodus 19:16-20 where Israel meets God. “There were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast,” as well as smoke and flame as God descended. The day of Pentecost was at the same time of year, and similar things happened.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1–4, ESV)

The gospel was preached at Sinai, and it was preached again at Pentecost.

And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:8–12, ESV)

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (Hebrews 4:2, AV)

Pentecost

On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. (Exodus 19:16–20, ESV)

Coming soon, the feast of Weeks also known as Shavuot or Pentecost.

The New Covenant

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31–34, ESV. See also Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 5:10; Ezekiel 11:19-21)

The Natural Man and Spiritual Relevance

From ‘Whole Bible Christianity’ chapter 4 ‘The Natural Man and Spiritual Relevance’

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:11–16, ESV)

The “natural person” does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him. The Word (the Law) looks foolish, so he refuses to do anything God says. God’s Law is spiritual (Romans 7:14) so a natural man does not think it is relevant. It is as if a starving man were at a banquet but refusing to eat because it isn’t served on china. All he has to do is reach out his hand and partake of God’s blessings, but he won’t because it is served on wood plates. Only when we humbly submit to God do we see that His knowledge is not foolish. When we reject the knowledge of God given in the Law, it shows that we are not spiritual. A new heart of flesh written with the Law by the Spirit recognizes the blessings in the Law freely given us by God.