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God’s Method of Inspiration

October 3rd, 2018

The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6)

How is God able to give to humanity His flawless words?

The Astounding Fact

We are first amazed at the mere thought of such a thing occurring as creatures receiving the thoughts of the Creator. God reveals to His prophets what He will do (Amos 3:7). Paul wrote of in 1 Corinthians 13:12 of the future fullness of knowledge about ourselves – “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” And Christ told of the conviction that the Spirit gives even to the most sinful and worldly of hearts: “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).

In heaven we shall have full knowledge of ourselves. Here on earth our own hearts are a mystery to us, and our actions as well. We read, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:15). But in heaven we are promised the completion of the new life begun in our hearts here on earth through the gospel:

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thess. 5:23-24)

In heaven, in the fullness of that future revelation, we shall “see his face” and his name will be on our “foreheads” (Rev. 22:4) – an expression in Revelation for the knowledge of God. Will there be retained by God some knowledge of Himself that we are not privy to, in heaven? I cannot personally imagine it otherwise, but however we understand this future revelation there is no motive, factor, or truth that is meaningful to our hearts and minds that will not be revealed.

But even here on earth, as we walk with Him, it is amazing to consider that God reveals Himself to us – “such knowledge is too wonderful for me” (Psalm 139:6). God reveals his heart, His ways, and Himself to simple Christians who walk with Him in daily communion.

The Treasure of Knowledge

“I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8). Time does not permit me to write much on this fact today, but it is a subject worthy of consideration. The treasure of the knowledge of God, which we gain through the knowledge of Christ, is precious beyond words to our hearts. The Word itself expounds on who He is, His holiness, His love, His purpose. This is the satisfying revelation of hope and peace to our hearts. In the midst of the “hub-bub” and worries of today’s world, to stop and consider the peaceful and exuberant praise of God in heaven is a treasure to our souls.

God’s Means of Revelation

I believe the psalmist gave us an image of the means by which God purifies our hearts – like the purification of silver or any precious metal. It is heated until the dross and the true silver separate from one another, and then the dross is poured off, and the metal is allowed to cool. Then it is subjected another six times to the same treatment, until the silversmith can find no more dross at all.

Is there any doubt as to what is pictured here? Heat and purification have the image of the combined challenges of life – the combination of sorrow, troubles, convictions, and sins and confessions. However often we have failed, when we return to God in confession we have placed our hearts into the hands of the Divine Silversmith, who pours off the dross of our minds and lives. I have never known any person to mature very much in the faith without this process of purification.

Christ said to His disciples, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (John 15:3). And He prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). So there are cleansings and purifications we experience through personal and corporate devotions and the study of God’s Word. But even then, His Word must seek out the deep thoughts of our hearts, which the Word of God is designed to do:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  (Hebrews 4:12)

Christ prayed and taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). This is a purifying prayer, and whenever we see some wreck made by the sin and wrongness of our hearts we need to go through the purifying process of confession, cleansing, and the pouring off of the dross of our souls.

There is the process of divine illumination that God has used where He overcame the weakness of earthly thought – such as Balaam’s ass (Num. 22:21 cf) or even King Saul’s prophesying (1 Sam. 19:24). But God’s modus operandi is that the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets (1 Cor. 14:32), and the revelation came through hearts that had been purified as silver, seven times over.

Our Response

So our response is to lay our hearts bare before Him daily, to confess our failures and to see how we may grow more and more godly through His Word and His Spirit. No matter how often we have been purified on this earth, there will be more purification needed. The number “seven” is symbolic of completeness – meaning not merely seven times only, but as long as it takes.

Daily Devotions, discipleship, Heaven, Psalms

The Living God

September 26th, 2018

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. (Psalm 42:2)

The psalmist longed for the “living God” – not for the dead “god” of the past, not for the misshapen pagan ideas about God that had littered his mind in the past, not for the deadness of legalistic concepts of God, and neither for the sleepy, aloof “god” that some conceive of as far-off, distant, and uncaring. The living God was the God of instant help, of close companionship, of strength and wisdom, and of redemption and salvation.

The living God satisfied hearts

Another psalm by the sons of Korah used similar words:

My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God. (Psalm 84:2)

In that beautiful psalm the author notes that in the temple of God “even the sparrow finds a home,” noting the nesting birds and how they depict the loving grace of God.

The sons of Korah had a dubious beginning in scripture, being unhappy with their assigned positions to care for the things of the tabernacle, and aspiring for the more public role of serving priests, they were part of a rebellion that occurred in the wilderness, causing God to bring judgment (Numbers 16, 26:9-11). Later the sons of Korah necame doorkeepers and custodians of the temple (1 Chron. 9:19-21). But they wrote eleven of the psalms, among which are the memorable inspired words:

As the deer pants for water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84:10)

They had learned that what the soul truly longs for is not fame or power but loving acceptance by God. I believe that virtually every person who has ever held a position in Christian leadership for very long has been impressed by two thoughts – (a) their unworthiness to hold the position and (b) the inner desire of their heart to be in the company of those who love and accept them unconditionally. Often Christian leaders are pressured by immature Christians to please them – and immature Christians are never pleased actually – and feel pulled this way or that way.

Which is why it is so important that we know the living God as the God who satisfies hearts. If we do not stand in Him and rest in Him and feel His leadership and His peace, we will be miserable in our service. And make others unhappy in the process.

The living God defeats enemies

Joshua also used this phrase “the living God.” As he led the nation into the promised land, he said to them:

This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. (Joshua 3:10)

These nations represented more than opposing viewpoints. They personified the fallenness and sinfulness of the world, and the cultural backdrop that Israel had been called out of. They practiced child sacrifice along with other immoral practices in their religions and were evil and despicable societies.

Their evil was a constant temptation to Israel, just as the world is to us. We are not called to wage physical war against sinful societies today – though for one practicing child sacrifice nations might agree as a united force to take military measures to stop the practice – but we are called to put an end to sin and to association with sin in our lives. We need the strength of the living God to do so.

The living God moves by His Spirit in this world and in our hearts, and He takes captives our thoughts to make them obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:4-5). Dead legalism will only motivate us not to get caught in our sinning, but the living God brings victory over sin in our hearts. “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom. 7:6).

The living God delivers His people

The prophecy of Daniel also uses this phrase, following the deliverance of Daniel from the lions’ den. King Darius said the words, but the phrase he must have learned from Daniel. Finding Daniel alive in the morning, after having spent all night among the lions, the king exclaimed of the God of Daniel:

for he is the living God,
enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions. (Daniel 6:26-27 ESV)

The living God has a living and eternal kingdom and He shall fulfill His promises to His people. In eternity we shall live because He lives. The angel in Revelation swore by Him who lives forever and ever (Rev. 10:6) and in Hebrews it is written of Christ:

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

Our salvation and deliverance is secure because it is upheld by the eternal One of the universe – God Himself. Because He is the living God, we have hope and confidence, as well as comfort, deliverance, and victory.

Psalms