Four Words

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My Musings – When studying the first chapter of Genesis, the focus of many are on the details and why they can or cannot be taken literally.  But even before getting into the details are the first four words.

Four Words: Their Basic Definitions

In – Expressing the time period [beginning] during which an event [creation of heavens and earth] takes place.

The – Denoting one or more people [God] or things [beginning] already mentioned or assumed to be common knowledge. Used to point forward to a following qualifying or defining clause or phrase [created the heavens and the earth].

Beginning – The point in time or space at which something starts.

God – the Creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme Being (IAM).

Four Words: Expanding Our Understanding

Common Knowledge – The Creator is clearly seen in His creation. It is understood that an intelligent design means there is an intelligent designer. Order and complexity did not happen by chance or accident. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20, NIV 1984).

The Point In Time Something Starts – God is not that something. Because “in the beginning, God” was already there. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8, NIV 1984). God is self-existent (existing independently of other beings or causes), the “uncaused causer.” God is transcendent (existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe – time, space and matter). “I am who I am,” “I will be who I will be,” or even “I cause to be what is.” This is not a “name” that makes God an object of definition or limitation. Rather, it is an affirmation that God is always free to be and act as God wills. (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary).

The Creator – Of the many names used for God in the Bible, the one used here in Genesis is Elohim, which is a plural noun. (Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, Calvin, J., & King, J.). Only two persons (Father and Holy Spirit) of the Trinity were specifically mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2). The third person of the Trinity (Son) is inferred, but not fully revealed. “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26, NIV 1984). The revelation came later. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-3, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Let’s focus on the Creator.  That will put us in a much better position to appreciate (not worship) His creation.

The Word – Special Delivery

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My Musings – Years ago, the Christian worldview, based upon the Word of God, was nearly universally accepted as the absolute truth in the Western world.  This worldview has eroded over the years to the point that truth is largely considered to be relative to the person or circumstances.  Pontius Pilate once asked Jesus “What is truth.”  Nowadays, many (most) would answer question with “it depends.”  But Jesus said then, and would still say today, “I am the truth,” or “my words are truth.”  Jesus is able to say that because He is the Word that was with God in the beginning.

In revelation God unveils truth; by interpretation man understands that truth.  The link that connects God proclaiming (revelation) and man perceiving (interpretation) is the inspiration of Holy Scriptures.  The inspired Word of God.

Revelation – The divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of things (the facts of Divine communication) that were previously secret or unknown.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17, NIV 1978)

Inspiration – A divine influence or action (the means of Divine communication) on a person to enable him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation.

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20, 21, NIV 1978)

Interpretation – The apprehension and understanding (the process of Divine communication) of God’s revelation to man.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV 1978)

My Advice – The first two parts (revelation and inspiration) have been done for you.  Do your best to apprehend and understand what God is saying through His Word. through His Son.

 

Mission Accomplished!

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My Musings – Been thinking a lot about the aging process here lately.  In my adult Sunday School class yesterday, we talked about the various age groups in the Body and how they relate to each other, noting that older does not always equate with more mature in the faith.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we matured as fast (at least it seems fast now that I am in my mid-sixties) as we aged?  I confessed to the class to being older (it was quite obvious, of course), but not old (some denial going on?).  I also told them I aspired to being the oldest in our Church, but was willing to be patient about it.

Back to aging, versus maturing.  In the above text, as John speaks of three ages of men (children, young men and fathers) he could just as well be speaking about the three stages of salvation and Christian maturity (justification, sanctification, glorification).

Dear Children (Justification) – A judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law. In addition to the pardon of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law are satisfied in respect of the justified. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled – Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.  This is a past event that is accomplished through the work of the Son.

Young Men (Sanctification) – In Christian theology, a distinction is made between justification and sanctification where justification refers to having saving faith and sanctification refers to the process of gradual purification from sin and progressive spiritual growth that should mark the life of the believer – The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.  This is an on-going process that is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Fathers  (Glorification) – In the Scripture the idea of glorification deals with the ultimate perfection of believers.  It is ours by inheritance – Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.  This is our future destination through the work of the Father.

Interestingly, while these three aspects of salvation occur in the past (“have been justified through faith“), present (“are being transformed into His likeness“) and future (“we shall be like Him“), John speaks of them all as having already taken place (“have been forgiven“, “have overcome“, “have known Him“).  How each of us progress is different, and all of us experience our ups and downs, but that first act of faith guarantees the ultimate perfection of them all.  It kind of looks like this:

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My Advice –  Do not be discouraged.  “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6, NIV 1978).”  It’s a done deal.  So, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily [those ups and downs] entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1, NIV 1978).”  And one day “we shall see Him as He is.”  What a glorious thought!

I AM – Was, Is and To Come

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My Musings – The first few words of Genesis say the “In the beginning God…”  If I might interject, “in the beginning God was already there to createthe heavens and the earth.”  The unmoved mover, the uncreated transcendent being  – the Alpha.  In the first few verses of Revelation God goes on to state that He is also the Omega.  When these heavens and earth come to an end and are made new He is still there.  He had no beginning and will have no end.  “Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come.”  In other words “I AM.

In Exodus, Moses asked who he should say sent him, and God told Him to say “I AM.”  When Jesus came the first time and was put on trial before Pilate, He was asked if He was a King.  Jesus replied, “I AM.”  Finally, in the closing verses of Revelation, Jesus states “I AM coming soon.” He promised He would.

My Advice – Is He coming for you (to take you home with Him) or is He coming to you (to send you away from Him)?  Right now, to can make that decision for yourself.  When He comes (no man knows when) it will be too late.  You may never have the opportunity again.

Focused Attention

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My Musings – He’s watching and listening. Nothing escapes or distracts His attention.  So when things appear to be going amiss, we need to ask ourselves why that might be.  Have we wandered where we do not belong?  Is there something He’s trying to teach us?  Has He got something better planned? It certainly is not because He has not been paying attention.  He is well aware of what’s going on.

My Advice – Maybe its time for us to keep our eyes “on” Him and our ears attentive to His “voice.”  Of course, it’s always time for that.

I Can Do It Myself?

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My Musings – Like most “sound bites” from the Scriptures it is important that this verse be read in context so we do not read into “do everything,” what was not intended.  Paul has just finished saying that he has learned the secret of being content whatever the circumstances (and boy has he been through plenty of circumstances), whether in need or in plenty.  What Paul is actually saying is that he has strength to face all these things, through Christ who provides the strength.  Elsewhere, Paul recounts being told by Christ that His grace is sufficient.

My Advice – This is not just a Paul thing.  God’s grace is sufficient for all of us no matter what the circumstances.  The problem is, we frequently do not draw the strength from Him, preferring to tackle things on our own.  Draw from His strength.  The “well” never runs dry.

The Same In His Eyes

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My Musings – Last Friday, I was provided the opportunity of having a photo op with, and getting to shake the hands of, the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush (he’s the one on the left).  It was quite an honor for a small town “boy” (the one on the right), who in the grand scheme of things is fairly insignificant, to stand next to the man who at one time was arguably the most powerful man in the world.  I got to hear him interviewed for about an hour, and I have to say (whether you agreed with his politics or not), that he is a most gracious and humble man.  Very funny too (on purpose).

All that said, his days of power are over.  He is still to be honored as an ex-President, but he is no longer the mover of the wheels of history that he once was.  Of course we all know that there are the “hands” of One behind scenes that is the “unmoved mover.” He causes kings (presidents) and kingdoms (republics) to rise and fall.  Who at times removes His hands and permits things to occur in this fallen world that we do not always understand.  At other times, He stretches forth His hands to prevent things that go beyond His permissive will.  And at still other times He moves to cause things to happen that are simply amazing  (like His amazing grace).

In the end, when facing the Almighty, Presidents (current and ex) and kings, have no special privileges that small town “boys” do not have.  The significant persons of history are no more (or less) important than the insignificant.  For in the “grand scheme of things” we are all quite insignificant in comparison to Him.  Yet, He considered us significant enough to allow His Son to die on the cross to bear the penalty for all of our sins, significant and insignificant.

I’ve said it before in my blogs that there is no sin so small that Jesus did not have to die for it, and no sin too great that He could not die for it.  A corollary of this is: there is no person so insignificant that He would not dare to die for, and no person so significant that He did not need to die for.

Still, as insignificant as both George and I are, I was still glad I got to meet Him.  I will remember it for a long time, although I am pretty sure George has already forgotten.

My Advice – Some day, with my own eyes, I will behold the King of kings and Lord of lords.  My meeting this past week, which seems so huge now, will seem so trivial then.  Wouldn’t you like to behold Him too?  You will.  In fact every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess, that Jesus is Lord.  Some in adoration and relief.  Others in fear and grief.  Which will it be for you?  It doesn’t have to be in fear and grief.