Many a time when I’m reading through scripture I am just overwhelmed with the beauty and perfection of God’s Word.
Are you ever swept away by just the glory and refreshing truth of God’s Word? Some days it is a struggle to set aside time to read and study the Bible and then other days…… I can’t imagine what kept me away.
Some days like a gift from God I feel some of my blindness swept away and I can see it! I can see the glory, the beauty, the satisfaction here right here in God. And I can see that I’ve been looking at it all wrong.
Sometimes I’m trying to understand to comprehend it all through this puzzle of life, trying just to grasp a glimpse of God’s will, of His truth, and then all through the fog I find myself simply swept away by the wonder and magnificence of the Word of God.
Some people would argue that we can’t really understand the Scripture anyway, that it is better to give people an explanation of the Bible than the Bible itself. After all, we have such slow finite minds and we can understand nothing of God without the Holy Spirit, right?
If you believe that it is pointless to read and study scripture or that the studying and seeking to comprehend scripture should be left to the “spiritual people” like pastors or priests, I think you are missing three vastly important points. We are all guilty of forgetting of underestimating these three things and they are so important in our understanding of God.
1. We underestimate the power of the Word of God.
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
-Hebrews 1:1-3a (ESV)
Jesus Christ, Son of God, Son of Man, that is, God himself among us, is THE WORD. The same power that raised Christ from the dead, the same power with which He upholds the universe, this is the same power that spoke every word of our Bible. Whether through prophets or the fulfillment of all prophecy, the Bible is indeed inspired by God.
You cannot compare the Bible to the “sacred” writings of other religions. You simply cannot. The words of these so called “sacred” writings, like the Koran or Book of Mormon to name a few, are not from God. They are the words of man, words from the heart of man which is, in the words of Jeremiah 17:9, deceitful above all things and desperately sick.
The Christian Bible is completely different, for it is from the One and True God and King.
There truly is power in the Word of God. It really is living and active to all people.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” -Hebrews 4:12
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” -2 Timothy 3:16-17
2. We forget that the Holy Spirit is indeed inside of us all.
As children of God we have indeed been given the Spirit of God inside of us. Yes, we need the Spirit of God to teach us and instruct us, to give us understanding concerning what God has said. And isn’t that why Christ died? To cleanse us so that we might have the very presence of God inside us? His body was broken so that a way past the veil would be made. His blood was shed so that are able to come past that veil, with boldness and without fear into the very presence of God.
Indeed, we cannot understand the unfathomable depths of God’s Word, and yet with the Spirit of God inside us we can grasp at a glimpse of His beauty, glory, and perfection. Because we do have the Holy Spirit. And He is at work even now in us all.
“What about unbelievers?”, you may ask. Are they able to understand scripture? Does the Holy Spirit work in those who have or will reject Christ?
Sometimes it feels like many people want to have an exact system for the whole “process” of “getting saved” and when you “have” the Holy Spirit and the different “levels” of the Holy Spirit, and really……I don’t really think it is all biblical. They are well meaning and are trying to simplify things or systematize things, but it really doesn’t work that way.
I grew up in a Christian home. Some people say they don’t understand how someone can’t “know” when they were saved. Well, I don’t. There wasn’t “a moment” that I once and for all repented at. There wasn’t some sort of prayer I said. I just slowly grew. Ever since I was little, my parents taught me to ask for God’s forgiveness. And to forgive one another just as we have been forgiven by God. Sure, there was a point in my life where it all really sunk in, where I truly started living my faith out myself……..but it didn’t start any particular day. Or month. Or year even.
So when did I have the Holy Spirit? When did the Spirit of God live in me? I don’t know when exactly. For as long as I can possibly imagine, I’ve had a conscience. I’ve felt convicted over sin probably ever since I was able to consciously think. I think everyone kind of has.
Ever since I remember, I talked to God. I loved God in a manner or fashion, though, still now, I do not truly love Him as I ought to. I would pray to God and tell Him all sorts of things. I would ask Him for help in my childish way. I have repeatedly throughout my life repented anew and redevoted myself to Christ. But isn’t that every day?
God has been with me, every step of my life. God is with us, not just once we accept His love, but before and even despite our rejection. There is only one sin that will not be forgiven, and that is blaspheme of the Holy Spirit. Often this is called a seared conscience, where someone has ignored or pushed away the whispers of their conscience to the point where they cannot be convicted of anything
“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” -Mathew 12:31-32
I would say that God is quite able to speak to unbelievers. He does move in those who have rejected Him. He continues to show grace and mercy to those refuse His gracious gift. He gives them another chance. And another. He is patient. And yet…..for those who ignore His voice time and time again, it seems that eventually God will no longer honor them with His voice or call out with grace any longer.
Please understand that the seared conscience is a point of great confusion and fear, and only God really understands what it is. I only hope to bring a little clarity with what I have found God to be showing me. And let me comfort you with this: if you hear His voice calling out to you, convicting you: that is a sign that you do not have a seared conscience in any way. A person with a seared conscience is not a person who would be convicted about it.
But I also plead with you: if do indeed hear His voice calling out, do not ignore. Do not turn away. You cannot afford to. He wants you to be His not because you are perfect, (far from it), but for the very reason that He loves you. Our gracious God longs for you to answer His call, to submit to His voice. Please do not ignore that voice.
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
-Hebrews 3:12-15 (ESV)
3. We Do Not Fully Grasp That “God Is With Us”
God Is With Us. What is that supposed to mean? My sister asked me the other day if I knew just how small Jesus made Himself when He came to earth.
Thinking of His humility and unable to grasp it, I answered, “Probably not.”
To which my sister answered, “He became two cells”.
My first thought was “Wait what?” and then all I could think was simply “Wow.”
The Lord of all heaven and earth, the Creator of the universe, the great I AM inhabited two cells.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I picture the incarnation, I picture the virgin birth, the baby in a manger. But that’s not where it began. That’s not how the Christmas story starts.
“The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” -Luke 1:30-31
“Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” -Luke 1:34-35
The incarnation happened when the virgin Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit. Two cells. Wow.
This was truly “God with us”.
I’ve often heard people comment on how much easier it would be if “You know… God were actually with us.” Many of us, including me are tempted to think “If Jesus could just come right here and talk with me, if I could see Him right before my eyes and know it was Him, I’m sure everything would be all right.”
Would it help? I mean Jesus himself…..right before our eyes! How incredible would that be? How lucky (or rather blessed) were the disciples to see Him face to face!
Let us think about this for a little bit. Why did Jesus ascend to the Father? Why didn’t He “stay” here with us? Why did He have to leave? The disciples wanted to know the same thing.
Here are some excerpts from John chapter 14-16. I would highly encourage you to read through the entire chapters, as well as through the book of John, but obviously it is a bit too long to be included here. 🙂
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” -John 14:1-3
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 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. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” -John 14:15-20
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” -John 14:25-29
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” -John 15:26-27
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” -John 16:4b-7
“In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” -John 16:26-28
Jesus says that it is to our advantage that He go to the Father. We must trust that He truly does know best.
We have a tendency to think that because Jesus has ascended to the Father, that God is somehow not with us anymore. This could not be farther from the truth. Jesus ascended to the Father so that we could know God in a greater way than before, so that we could really know what it was like to have God WITH US.
Jesus was once WITH US physically. God is now WITH US in a greater way, He is with us in spirit. And some day, His dwelling place shall be WITH US, and we shall be His people and He shall be our God.
In Old Testament Israel, God went with Israel, or rather before them, but they could not see or experience His presence. Even Moses could not stand before God in all His glory, lest He die. When the voice of God called out Israel was afraid.
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”” -Hebrews 12:18-21 (ESV)
This was the Old Covenant. In the temple a massive curtain separated the Holy Place from the MOST HOLY PLACE. There was fear associated with that curtain. Behind that curtain was the Mercy Seat, the Golden Altar, the Ark of the Covenant. If any man or animal went in there without blood, they would die.
Until the day when Jesus died. On that day, because His body was broken for us, that curtain was torn top to bottom. On that day, because He shed His blood for us we are covered by His blood and can enter with confidence into the Holy of Holies, The Most High Place, the PRESENCE OF GOD. He is with us. Here. Now. WITH US.
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” -Hebrews 12:28-29 (ESV)
How incredible is that? But what does it mean? How does it matter? How does it apply to the Word of God?
Scripture is not just some outdated thing. It is Holy. It is from God, yes. Jesus is greater than we can imagine, yes, but He came down to be WITH US, He became two cells for us. He is the Word.
To think that we have the very Word of God at our fingertips is rather intimidating. What do we, sinful humans, perhaps at the lowest point in our lives, have to do with the Holy Word of God? And yet, it is for us. It is not beyond us.
Not because of our power, but because of His. Not because we are able to understand His Word, but because He has graciously gifted us with the Holy Spirit to guide us and teach us what His Word means.
Yes, often it will be only a glimpse of the beauty and perfection of His Word that we will get. We will only ever, on this side of Heaven be able to grasp at a wisp of God’s full meaning and purpose, but thank God, He has given us that glimpse into Himself.
He is WITH US. And He is the Word.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it………
There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
-John 1: 1-4, 9-14
The true Light has come into the world, and this light enlightens every man.
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
I can only pray that my thoughts on what God has been teaching me about His Word will encourage you to treasure His Word in your heart and lift you up towards Him so that you may see glimpse of His majesty.
This post has taken me almost two months (perhaps more by the time I post it) to finish, but it has been worth it. Studying about God’s Word through His Word has helped in more ways through these past months than I probably even know. If no one ever reads this post it will have been worth it to write, even to go back to myself in times of struggle and doubt.
If you are reading this right now and you took your time to read this whole thing, thank you very much, and I hope I did not waste your time. May you understand just how much God is with us!
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
*All scripture quotations are taken from the NASB translation unless otherwise noted