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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

Living Because of God

April 19th, 2018

For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:7-8 ESV)

There are three different perspectives of our relationship with God found in the Bible.

Perspective 1: It is my life but I wish God to bless it

The first view begins with the individual and then goes to God. This view is limited, but not always completely evil. It is commonly seen among people. And, to be honest, it is seen in Scripture in both a positive light and a negative light.

For example, the psalmist wrote, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psa. 91:11). The verse was seen as a prophetic promise to the Messiah (Matt. 4:5-11), but it also reflected the idea of general faith in God, that my path in life is chosen by me, but I may still ask God to bless my path. In its best light it causes the individual to think what it would take for God to bless his life and his choices. But Satan used it also in a negative way to tempt Jesus to suggest that He could go His own way and make God follow Him.  

In its worst light this idea of God blessing my way resembles what is commonly seen in pagan religions that make several unchristian assumptions about God: (a) that God is distant and aloof, (b) that God does truly care about us and we must bribe him in some way to gain his attention and concern, (c) that God also does not truly know what is best for us, so we must advise him about what we want in life.  

Jesus alluded to this when he spoke of the Pharisees who prayed as though God was deaf and uncaring: “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt. 6:7-8). 

But this view is not altogether wrong all the time, for there are many instances in life where God allows us freedom to choose our ways. “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Prov. 16:3). There are many decisions we make in life where God is silent, and we must make the best decision we can under the circumstances and commit it to the Lord. But to commit something to the Lord means more than to go our own selfish way and wish him to bless it irregardless. This leads us to other perspectives.

Perspective 2: My life is given me by God and should be lived to please Him

This is a second perspective, and it is much more than asking God to bless my choices.  It begins with the assumption that God is not just the Creator of life in general but He is my personal Creator. He has a plan for me. I should look first for His choices, His will, and His path for me.

For the Christian, we are comforted with the knowledge that God is a God of love, of mercy, and of compassion, and He wishes to bless me. He also wishes to bless others through me, so with God there is always someone to be redeemed and benefited through our obedience – sometimes it is us who benefit, or so it seems, and sometimes it seems that others benefit from our obedience. But the perspective of a biblical faith is that our obedience to God’s will and choices for us is always a blessing to all.

For example, He teaches us to love others for their benefit, but along the way we discover that loving others is also a benefit to us. And this is true with other seemingly unselfish acts.  “Give and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38), and “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Act 20:35).

The one thing that every meaningful life must have is a purpose. The selfish individual is the most miserable. The one who truly has a God, ordained purpose to his life is the most fulfilled. Paul wrote, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it” (Eph. 4:7). The idea behind this is that God has given each redeemed life a certain amount of grace to fulfil His plan for that life.

In Romans he wrote similarly of faith: “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Rom. 12:3). Here Paul spoke of faith, and it seems that he was describing the same principle. God has a purpose for your life and for my life and the most fulfilled person finds that purpose and lives according to the grace and faith that God has allotted him to life with.

Perspective 3: We are alive because of God

There is another perspective that brings these together and even helps them go much further. My life is not just mine to live as I wish, nor is it just mine to live as God wishes me to. My life is an extension of Christ’s work in the world and I live because of Him.

Again we are helped by Paul who wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not i but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Jesus said, “I  am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). John wrote, “Whoever has the Son has life” (1 John 5:12).

He lives in me and through me is the Christian principle. I do not merely go my way and ask for His blessing. And I do not merely go His way and ask for His guiding presence. He now lives and goes in me and through me and He guides me and enables me in all that I do. Jesus taught:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)

In some way we operate daily on all three levels.

  • We are independent agents and make our own decisions. Many things we are left to decide on our own, but we should ask God to bless our way in life.
  • We are to be obedient agents as well, and our path is not just ours. We do not live to ourselves or die to ourselves alone, but to God. We should find His purpose and fulfil His purpose with the strength and grace and faith He provides.
  • We are not mere actors on this stage, however. We are empowered and indwelled beings. God is in us through His Spirit. We live because of God.

Daily Devotions, discipleship