The Trinity, Graven Images and the Holy Scriptures

Trinitarian Distinctions and Why they Matter

In the first three centuries of the church there was probably no greater doctrinal argument than that over the “substance” of Christ as he related to the Father. Trinitarians argued that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, while three separate persons were all a part of the same substance or essence, something called “homoousios”.

Arianism as it was called argued that God was not Triune but that the Son was “begotten” of the Father and thus the Son and the Holy Spirit were all of their own individual substance or essence or “heteroousios”. Therefore Jesus Christ was a created being and not eternally God.

Around the same time another theological camp came forth called Semi-Arianism that would agree with Arianism that the Son was not “of the same substance” (homoousios) or the Father but they would go on to say that the Son was of a “of a similar substance” (homoiousios). So similar but still different.

In time, Arianism and it’s brother Semi-Arianism would assume the label of heresy and Trinitarianism would win the day becoming orthodoxy.

What’s the significance of this? Well the significance I’d like to point out is that distinctions matter. Even very particular distinctions. The Trinity is a great mystery. The human mind isn’t capable of fully understanding the paradoxical nature of the Triune God. All we’re capable of knowing are the things we do know. Namely, God is one in three persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God. The Father is not the Son nor the Spirit; the Son is not the Father nor the Spirit and the Spirit is not the Father nor the Son. God is the uncreated reality of Truth. This is what we can know about God’s nature. How this is possible we can not understand, nonetheless it is so.

These distinction are of great significance. If we don’t acknowledge them then we don’t acknowledge God for who his is or has revealed himself to be. We’ve in effect, created a false god, one that does not exist and we have profaned the true living God in ascribing to his nature things that he himself does not reveal to us as pertaining to his character.

Distinctions, even the most minute, have very serious implications, especially as they pertain to the nature and being of the Holy Trinity.

Graven Images

In Exodus 20 the Lord God spoke to his people laying out for them what would come to be known as the Decalogue or Ten Commandments.  In verse 4 God says the following:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” – Exodus 20:4-5

Essentially, God has told his people that they shall not make any idols for themselves, nor shall they worship them.  Not ANY likeness of ANY thing.  Nothing.  The Triune God is alone to be worshiped.  And while the Israelites didn’t know God to be Triune at the time, nevertheless he is and was and will always be Triune.

So NOTHING but God was to be considered God or worshiped as God.

The Scriptures

So what’s this got to do with the Holy Scriptures?  If you’ll read my Theological Distinctions page you’ll see my view on the Scriptures.  I have much more I’d like to share on this website about the Scriptures but for now, know this: that the Scriptures are the testimony of God.

They are what God has said about himself and his creation.  They are true.  They should be believed.  In fact, if one does not believe what they say, then Jesus says they will not believe his words (John 5:46-47).  Jesus himself gives an inescapable weight and significance to the Holy Scriptures.  They are, after all, his own testimony about himself and his creation, it stands to reason that Christ would place such a weight on his own words.

If you or I were to give our testimony concerning ourselves I’d assume we’d certainly want what we had said to be believed by those to whom it was given.  So it appears it is the same for the Lord.  His testimony, the Holy Scriptures, matter to him a great deal.

Another Distinction

When considering the nature of the Triune God and his Holy Scriptures yet another distinction must be made in order to properly understand what God has revealed to us about his very nature.  And that distinction is this: the Holy Scriptures are not the Triune God, nor is the Triune God the Holy Scriptures.

Remember, our God is Triune.  He is THREE persons, ONE God.  God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The Holy Scriptures are not the Father, nor the Son nor are they the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Scriptures are the testimony of the Triune God but they are not themselves the Triune God.  The Holy Scriptures are no more God the Son than the Holy Spirit is the Father.  Our God is Triune not Quadriune; he is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, he is NOT Father, Son, Holy Spirit and Holy Scriptures.  These distinctions matter.

Remember the great theological debate of early church history.  The issue at hand was the substance or essense of God.  Both Trinitarians and Arians believed that the Father was God, the Son was God and the Spirit was God.  On this important note they all agreed.  The absolutely critical component of their disagreement was the question as to whether or not the three persons of God shared the same “substance” or “essence”.   Trinitarians said yes.  Arians said no.  And the question at hand was of profound consequence.

So it is with the Scriptures.  There must be a clear distinction between the Triune God and his testimony, the Holy Scriptures.  If there is not a distinction, then the logical implication is that the Triune God IS the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Scriptures ARE God.  And this is heresy.

Why is it heresy?  It’s heresy because in effect, if we do not make a distinction between the Triune God and the Holy Scriptures we have made them one and the same, they are essentially the same substance or have the same essence or homoousios as it were.  So just as the argument over Trinitarianism vs Arianism was a discussion of whether or not the Father, Son and Spirit shared the same substance, so we see the same implications are at play if we say that the Father, Son, Spirit and Scriptures are of the same substance.  There MUST be a distinction between the Triune God and his testimony, the Holy Scriptures.   If there is not, then we’re saying that the uncreated God is now a created thing, his testimony.  We’re saying He is a tangible thing, a book of writings (however accurate and truthful they may be) and this is directly contrary to what the Scriptures themselves teach about the nature of God and the Scriptures.

Some Illustrations

In order to better explain what I mean perhaps a few illustrations would help.  If a person goes to court and gives a testimony concerning themselves they are speaking forth a new thing, something that didn’t exist before they were sitting on the stand now exists as they speak forth their testimony.  In effect their testimony is a new creation.  It is a created thing.  What didn’t exist before they took the stand, now exists in their sharing their testimony.  Whatsmore, no one would assume that the physical record or transcript that the court reporter created of the person’s testimony would actually physically become the person on the witness stand.  That’s absurd.  The person on the stand doesn’t become a physical transcript after giving their testimony.  No, the person remains who they are and now a new thing, a thing separate from their being is created, a testimony.

The written record of the persons testimony is simply that, a written record.  Assuming the witness told the truth and the court reporter accurately recorded the testimony given then the written record of that testimony is accurate, it is true, it is to be believed.  Further, no one in their right mind would now assume that the physical transcript that the court reporter drafted would now become in essense and substance the same thing as the person on the stand giving they’re testimony.  No, this defies all reason.

So it is with our Triune God and his testimony the Holy Scriptures.  Our Triune God is uncreated.  His testimony is created.  Our Triune God tells the truth and his prophets have accurate transcribed his testimony according to the power and direction of the Holy Spirit and therefore the written record of his testimony, the Holy Scriptures are accurate, true and should be believed.  But God’s testimony has not become God.  To say it has means that God is no longer uncreated and eternally existent.  No, the Holy Scriptures are simply God’s testimony concerning himself and the revelation of his glory in all creation.  Thus, why they are called the Old TESTAMENT and the New TESTAMENT.  They are testimonies.  They are God’s own testimony concerning himself and his creation.  They are true and they should be believed.  However, they are not God himself.

Another example of what I mean.  Most of us carry around some form of identification.  Why?  What’s it for?  Well essentially, it’s a testimony.  Our driver’s license or a passport is a basically a testimony that we give so that we can verify we are who we say we are.

My passport will say that my name is Kyle McDaniel, it will show that I have brown hair and brown eyes, it will say that I’m roughly 6’1″ tall and 210 pounds.  It should accurately record my physical address and testify that I am a citizen of the United States of America.  All of these things are true, they should be believed by anyone who takes a look at my passport and they are believed by immigration officials who use it to verify my claim that I’m Kyle McDaniel and I’m an American citizen and should there for be granted admittance into the United States.

However, I am not my passport.  Nor is my passport me.  The passport is my testimony concerning myself.  That’s it.  If I committed a crime and the authorities sought to apprehend me and they happened to find my passport does any rational person believe they would have “me” in custody?  Ha!  Of course not.  I’m not a passport, I’m a human being.

The same can be said about our Triune God and his testimony the Holy Scriptures.  God is not the Bible, nor is the Bible God.

Not to belabor this point but for further illustration the map is not the territory, it’s an accurate, true and believable testimony concerning the territory being traversed.  The recipe is not the meal, it’s an accurate, true and believable testimony about how to cook the meal but it’s not the meal itself.

I hope these illustrations provide some help in demonstrating the point I’m trying to make.

Why does this matter?  Part 1

So why does this distinction matter?  Well it matters for multiple reasons but primarily because this distinction ensures that we understand accurately who God has revealed himself to be; who he is and what he is not.

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.” – Acts 17:29

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.” – Isaiah 40:28

“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

Our God is not a created being.  He is the uncreated, eternally existent reality of Truth.  The Holy Scriptures however are his testimony, a thing created by him and spoken forth before the foundations of world itself were lain.  Nevertheless they are still a created thing.  Therefore it is of the utmost importance that we do not call the Holy Scriptures God for in doing so we make a created thing to be the uncreated God.

Back to Graven Images…

Now that we’ve established that our Triune God is uncreated and that his testimony, the Holy Scriptures are a created thing, perhaps Exodus 20 will bring on new significance.

So what is a “graven image” anyway?  The Hebrew word used in Exodus for “graven” is “pecel” which means “an idol, a carved (graven) image” and comes from the Hebrew root word, “pacal” which means “to carve, whether wood or stone, to grave or hew”.

Essentially, a graven image is anything, ANY thing, that is carved or shaped by human hands and worshiped as an idol, as if it were a god.

When the prophets wrote the Holy Scriptures under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit they did so by engraving (that is writing) God’s testimony on a physical thing, whether it was stone or animal skins or parchment or whatever else.

If we say that there is no distinction between the Triune God and his testimony, the Holy Scriptures then in effect we have said that the graven image crafted by human hands is God and shares his very substance or essence and is therefore worthy of worship.

We’ve violated the second commandment.

We’ve crafted an image, a graven image, that we now worship as God.  This is idolatry.

Again, Exodus 20 clearly states;

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of ANY THING that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” – Exodus 20:4-5

I want to be crystal clear with what I am and am not saying here.  I am not saying that God had men create a graven image or an idol when he had them transcribe the Holy Scriptures.  Nor am I saying that the Holy Scriptures, because they were transcribed by men, were a creation of man.  Absolutely not.  The Scriptures were written by God himself even before they were transcribed by the prophets.  (See Galatians 3) The Holy Scriptures are God written, they are good, they are true, they are Holy.

What I am saying here is that when men treat the Scriptures as though they are God, they wrongly attribute to both God and the Scriptures characteristics that neither God nor the Scriptures themselves ever testify to.  When the Scriptures are made to be God, which they are not, idolatry is committed.

Why does this matter?  Part 2

This distinction matters for another reason.  It hinders us greatly from truly knowing God for who he is and having his resurrected life in Christ Jesus made manifest in us.  When we elevate the Holy Scriptures to a place they don’t belong, the place of God, then we begin to worship them as God when in reality we are worshiping an idol.  We forsake the living God for his testimony believing that his testimony, the Holy Scriptures, can give us the eternal life that is only found in Jesus by hearing his voice.  This is exactly what Jesus explained to the Jews in John 5.

The Jews were seeking to kill Jesus because he was making himself equal with God.  In verse 24 Jesus says,

“24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” – John 5:24-25

It is those who HEAR HIS VOICE that will have eternal life.

“39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” – John 5:39-47

The Jews sought the Holy Scriptures, God’s own testimony concerning himself, because they believed that by doing so they would have eternal life but Jesus says they didn’t come to him that they may have that life.  In saying these things Jesus has done three things:

  1. He makes a very clear and unequivocal distinction between himself and the Scriptures.  They came to the Scriptures but not to Christ.  If Christ and the Scriptures are not distinct from one another then this is not possible.  If Christ and the Scriptures are the same substance or essence then the Jews should have been coming to Jesus when they came to the Scriptures, yet Jesus clearly explains in very plain language this wasn’t the case.  Christ is not the Scriptures and the Scriptures are not Christ.  The distinction is crystal clear.
  2. He’s exposed the heart of the Jews, that they didn’t actually love God (v. 42), they loved the glory that came from another.  There hope was set on Moses, there hope was set on self perfection.  They believed that if they knew Moses writings (which are the Holy Scriptures) perfectly they believed that they would be perfect and acceptable to God.  But by works of the law shall no man shall be justified!
  3. He establishes the fact that the Scriptures do indeed bear witness about him.  The Scriptures as I’ve clearly stated before are God’s own testimony, they do bear witness about him and they are true and should be believed.  Not only that, but Jesus comes full circle to what he said in verses 24-25 about those who believe his words will have eternal life and says that if you don’t believe the writings of Moses (the Holy Scriptures) you won’t be able to believe his words.

So we see you can’t know God and have his eternal life by simply knowing the Holy Scriptures as the Jews did.  You must HEAR HIS VOICE.

In John 8:47 Jesus reiterates this point with crystal clarity:

47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”John 8:47

For The Letter Killeth…

In John 14 Jesus tells his disciples of the promised Holy Spirit and how he will teach us everything that Jesus said.

26 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.” – John 14:26

So after the Holy Spirit comes he will now be the one who speaks to God’s people.  And the voice that Jesus said we had to hear in order to have eternal life, will be the voice of the Holy Spirit.

And the Apostle John encourages us in his epistle with this same message.

24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us[a]eternal life.” – 1 John 2:24-45

The current ministry of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential to the life of a born again believer in Jesus Christ.  We MUST hear his voice in order to have the life of Jesus Christ.  We MUST.  And this is why the Jews who sought to kill Jesus didn’t have the eternal life they sought.  Because they didn’t hear the voice of the Spirit.

A final word on graven images.  The etymology of the English word graven is the past tense of grave, meaning “to bury”.  Perhaps this is not by accident as Paul so clearly taught us:

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” – 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

You can and should search the Scriptures.  They should be read, study and believed.  But know this; the letter, the Holy Scriptures in and of themselves will not give you the life you seek.  No amount of diligent study or theological acumen will birth the life of Christ in you.   Apart from the Holy Spirit the Holy Scriptures, like all idols and graven images will always lead to death.  The Holy Spirit must speak and we must hear his voice in order to have the life of Jesus Christ.

It is the Spirit that gives this life.

Grace and Peace to you in Jesus name.

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Our Passover Lamb

This morning was the third day that my wife and I started our day with prayer, scripture reading and communion.  Each morning we’ve started by praying and then asking the Lord to direct our hands to the texts that he would have us read and meditate on.  This morning my wife read from Psalm 36:5-37:7 and I read from Exodus 12:1

When I was just a boy I started trusting the Holy Spirit to guide me when I would go to read the scriptures.  I would simply plop open my Bible and then start reading from whichever passage the pages fell to.  Sometimes I would flip around first, left or right a little or a lot.  The point being I just would kind of “feel” it out.  When I felt like I came to the place that the Holy Spirit was asking me to stop and read I would stop and read.

If you’ve never tried this you may want to pray about it and ask the Holy Spirit if he’d like you to do this.  I can’t begin to tell you how much it has done to increase my reliance and dependence on the Holy Spirit always and continually leading me throughout my day.  I truly believe this is what is meant by “abiding in the vine”.  We seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as if we actually believe what the Bible says about him.  Namely, that he is a PERSON (John 15:26) and that he teaches you ALL things (John 14:26John 16:13, 1 Cor 2:10-16, 1Thess 4:9, 2 Tim 2:7, Hebrews 3:15, 1 John 2:20-27)

Psalm 36:5-37:7

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
    your judgments are like the great deep;
    man and beast you save, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light do we see light.

10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
    and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
11 Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me,
    nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 There the evildoers lie fallen;
    they are thrust down, unable to rise.

He Will Not Forsake His Saints

[b] Of David.

37 Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
    be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
    and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.[c]
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

 

Exodus 12:1-32

The Passover

12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.[a]

“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord‘s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”

21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lordwill pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25 And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service.26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord‘s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.

28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.

The Tenth Plague: Death of the Firstborn

29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. 31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said.32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!”

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A Wonderful Savior

As I’ve been thinking about the current trial that my family is going through I feel as if the Holy Spirit has been ministering to me by reminding me to the great love of God that has been demonstrated toward me in Jesus Christ.

When considering my suffering I’m prompted by the Spirit to consider those of Christ and I am humbled.  And then I am overwhelmed.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he speaks of the preeminence of Jesus Christ and here we’re given a small glimpse into the majesty, power and glory of our great King.

Colossians 1:15-20

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Think on this for a moment.  All things, everything that exists in all the earth, in all the universe, all of it, was created BY Jesus, THROUGH Jesus and FOR Jesus and Jesus now HOLDS them all together by his awesome power.  It’s impossible for the human mind to even begin to understand the scope of Jesus’ power and might and awesome glory.  There is truly nothing like him.  Right now, as I type these words he holds my fingers together by his very power so that I might write to the praise of his glory.

This should be staggering to you.  The breath in your lungs, the matter that makes up your brain and the desk you sit at; all of it was created BY him, THROUGH him and FOR him.  Awesome indeed.

Now consider this.  Christ, who being awesome in power and might and Holy without spot or blemish, existed in perfect unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit before creation, lacking nothing, full of glory and grace and truth; would enter a fallen creation in the form of man in order to redeem sinners like me.

Philippians 2:5-8

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

The King of all Creation, for whom everything was made, would willingly get off of his throne* (this is not to suggest that Jesus ever actually cease to be God) and enter this world as a man and suffer the consequence of sins he did not commit.

What’s more the King rode a donkey.  He was born in a manger.  He was homeless.  He was maligned.  Ridiculed.  Doubted.  Questioned.  Rejected.  Despised.

What grotesque injustice.

The King of everything that has been made.  The King that made everything that there is.  The King that now holds all of that there is together by his very power and he rides a donkey?

Luke 9:58

58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

I fox and a bird have a home but the King of all Creation has no place to lay his head.  I can’t even begin to fathom the level of gross injustice in this.  It’s simply beyond my intellectual grasp.

As appalling as these injustices were, we see the King WILLINGLY accept them.  At any moment the King could have stopped this injustice, he could have screamed, “are you kidding me?!, I made it all, it’s all for me and yet I have no place to lay my head at night?!”  And yet he didn’t.

Hebrews 12:1-4

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

John 15:11

11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

He willingly endured this shame for the joy that was set before him and further that we might share in his joy.

Our suffering has been significant.  But it isn’t even worth comparing to the suffering that Jesus endured on our behalf.

Knowing that the Lord would be so kind toward me is truly overwhelming.  I am humbled and comforted by such a great love.  I can’t begin to express my gratitude toward you Jesus for what you endured on my behalf.  And now you share your reward, your joy with me?

Lord, who are you?

I am so unworthy of your love and yet you have freely lavished your grace upon me, receiving in yourself all my sufferring, sin and shame and now that you have victory of sin and death by your resurrection from the grave you share your reward we me?

Lord, forgive me.

My King, there is none like you.  Not one.  You alone are worthy of praise and honor and glory.   I worship you Jesus for you alone are God and you alone save sinners.  I am so overwhelmed by the love you’ve demonstrated toward me that my words simply fail me.  Lord, I long to see you face to face that I might fall at your feet and worship you.  You are so worthy of praise.  You are so wonderful, in all your ways.  Blessed be my great God and King Jesus, a wonderful savior.

 

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The Lord Forgives

Unleavened bread and wine.

This morning I told my wife that I felt compelled that we begin taking communion once daily until the Lord says otherwise.  Once in the morning with a time of prayer, scripture reading and meditating on the Lord.

We are currently in the battle of our lives.  We are pressed in on all sides.  All we know to do anymore is to seek the Lord at his table.  We know we will always have a place there.

Lord, we love you.  We magnify your name.  Precious Jesus who takes away our sins.  Lord we thank you for the cross, for your broken body, your shed blood.  It is by your stripes that we are healed.  Lord we have sinned against you.  In our doubt and fear, in our questioning your will and character, Lord we have maligned your name.  Forgive us.

Father, when you look upon us in our sin, remember your Son.  Wash us in the blood of the Lamb that we might be reconciled to you completely.  Create a new heart in us and breathe the breath of life into our souls.  Restore your Spirit within us Lord.  Give us your peace that we might share in the resurrected life of your Son Jesus who is Christ and Lord.

Amen.

We started our communion time today with prayer and then I asked my wife to follow me in simply opening our Bibles and reading whatever passage the Lord brought us to.  My wife read first from Job 5:17-27 and I read Psalm 116.

Job 5:17-27

17 “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
    therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
18 For he wounds, but he binds up;
    he shatters, but his hands heal.
19 He will deliver you from six troubles;
    in seven no evil[d] shall touch you.
20 In famine he will redeem you from death,
    and in war from the power of the sword.
21 You shall be hidden from the lash of the tongue,
    and shall not fear destruction when it comes.
22 At destruction and famine you shall laugh,
    and shall not fear the beasts of the earth.
23 For you shall be in league with the stones of the field,
    and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you.
24 You shall know that your tent is at peace,
    and you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing.
25 You shall know also that your offspring shall be many,
    and your descendants as the grass of the earth.
26 You shall come to your grave in ripe old age,
    like a sheaf gathered up in its season.
27 Behold, this we have searched out; it is true.
    Hear, and know it for your good.”[e]

I Love the Lord

116 I love the Lord, because he has heard
    my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
    therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
    the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
    I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
    our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
    for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.

10 I believed, even when[a] I spoke:
    “I am greatly afflicted”;
11 I said in my alarm,
    “All mankind are liars.”

12 What shall I render to the Lord
    for all his benefits to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord,
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his saints.
16 Lord, I am your servant;
    I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
    You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
    and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will pay my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord,
    in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

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Still waiting…

Dry Woods, Big Thicket, Texas

This posts is going to be a little different.  I guess with a title like “propheticwordofgod.com” you’d think this site would be filled with nothing but positive affirmations and assurances of good tidings.  Maybe it should be.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that right now I don’t really have any good tidings to give you.

My family is in a very difficult season and we simply don’t know how to go on anymore.  We’re just so very tired.  Calling this a “season” would be a misnomer.  For the entire 6 years of our marriage (and for me, the previous 3 years) we have just always been in this trial.  We, like most, thought that at some point this “season” would end and that better days would be ahead.  We thought that at some point the Lord would come in and deliver us from our trial but that simply hasn’t happened and we are at a loss as to why.

We’ve shared our grief with our brothers and sisters in the faith, we’ve shared it with each other, most importantly we’ve shared it with the Lord.  But this trial has gone on without ceasing and I am starting to lose hope.

I know that Jesus Christ is Lord.  My wife knows this.  With every fiber of my being I know and believe the good news of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for the remission of sin.  I know the Lord loves us.  I know the Lord is with us.  Nevertheless we are so very tired or our trial.

In November of 2009, I was 29 years old, had a good job and a nice truck; generally my life was a good one.  Then one morning as I was driving into work I heard the Lord give me a prayer to pray.  I hear the Lord speak, I have throughout my life, but rarely this loudly and clearly.  As soon as I heard what he wanted me to pray, my inner voice yelled, “NO!!” but before I could do anything about it the words came pouring out of my mouth, “Lord, if it be your will and bring glory to your name, crush me.  My life is yours do with it what you will.”

Two weeks later I lost my job.  Since then, the Lord has simply refused to bless the work of my hands.  There was one year in there were I made just enough money to provide for our family.  The rest of the time though has been a practice in futility.  No matter what I do, how hard I work or how gifted I may be for a particular job or enterprise, all manner of things have worked together in the most comedic ways to ensure that money would not come to my hands by my hands.  It’s uncanny, we’ve never seen anything like it.

I’m heartbroken by my inability to provide for my family.  Some days I feel as though I will literally go insane.  I’m a smart, well educated, man.  None of this makes any sense apart from the providential working of God.

Back in 2011 about 2 years into the 9 years (and counting) trial, I was at a very low point.  Thoughts of suicide were starting to become a regular occurrence.  I felt like the Lord was asking me to spend some time alone with Him and so I decided to head out to the woods of Southeast Texas where my Dad and his friend have had a deer lease for decades.  There’s a very rudimentary camp there.  A little shack, with no running water or electricity.  I felt like it would be a good place to just go away and spend time with the Lord.

Knowing that I’d been dealing with suicidal thoughts my wife (then girlfriend) and parents were afraid of me being alone but they trusted the Lord with me.  Not knowing what our enemy was capable of we agreed that I wouldn’t take any gun with me.  There’s all kinds of critters in those woods though and so I needed something with me for protection and so my Dad made me a staff of sorts out of an old broom stick with a metal point on the bottom end.  The thought was I’d use that to fend off any coyotes or worse that might be inclined to bother me.

This was the summer of 2011, which is to this day the driest year on record (records go back about 100 years) in the state of Texas.  And it was the second hottest on record.  It was dry and hot and the woods I planned to spend some time in were a literal tinderbox.  There had been historic wildfires and people were on edge and praying for rain.

My Dad took me out to the camp and dropped me off with some water and basic supplies and then left.  It was quiet.  It was sunny.  It was hot.  It was one of those kind of days where the heat just hangs over you and presses down on you.  Not exactly comfortable, but it was where I was supposed to be.

I decided I would take my “staff” and go for a quick walk around the familiar lease.  A got about a quarter mile into my walk when something really pretty incredible happened.  Out of nowhere, and I mean nowhere, a dark cloud formed over the area and I thought, “is it going to rain?”  Just then there was a lighting strike so loud over me that it made my ears ring.  It scared me half to death.  I dropped the staff because it had metal on it and I thought it might function as a lighting rod.  This lighting/thunder was this close and this loud.  Then, it began to rain.  And I mean rain.  The rain came down hard and full and did so for about a minute or so and then just stopped and the sun and heat returned.

I’m not sure what that means or if it means anything.  But I’m inclined to believe the Lord was with me during that time in a way that I don’t fully understand.

As I spent day after day in the woods, I would read my Bible, pray and ask the Lord to speak to me.  I would read some more, pray and ask the Lord to speak to me.  It was hot during the day so I would make a trek down to a nearby creek and cool off in the water and then sit by the creek side and read, pray and asked the Lord to speak to me some more.

I read and prayed a great deal during this time and there were two things that I distinctly remember hearing the Lord say to me.  1.  “Wait.”  and  2. “You can trust in my steadfast love.”

For the next seven years I have clinged to these words.  “Wait.”  “You can trust in my steadfast love.”  Setback after setback, loss after loss, I’ve clinged to these words, this promise.  Hoping beyond hope that the breakthrough was right around the corner only time and again to realize there was another mountain to be climbed on the other side. We simply don’t have anything left in our tank to climb another mountain.

I know the Lord loves me, I know he is with me but I am just so very tired.  I can trust in his steadfast love and we are still waiting but we are just so very, very tired and not sure how much longer we can go on like this.

If you feel pressed by the Holy Spirit while reading this would you please for my family as the Spirit leads you to?  If you don’t feel led to pray in a certain way will you please pray and the Lord to remember his servant, to consider his frame, remember his family, his wife and his children and to put a stop to this trial at once.  Lord have mercy on us.

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Let the dead bury the dead…

Graveyard

I started this blog about 7 years ago as I believe the Holy Spirit asked me to and then I just kind of set it down and walked away.  Through what would seem to be many providential circumstances and events I believe the Lord is again asking me to write on this blog.

I have many things I’d like to say, flesh out, explain; but for now I’m just going to write whatever I feel like the Lord asks me to write and just trust Him to handle the rest.

When I was a little boy the Lord revealed himself to me and preached to me then what I now know to be the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Shortly thereafter I remember the Lord telling me that I was going to go into ministry, for his namesake.  I was initially excited about the idea.  But over the years that feeling turned to anger and resentment and so I ran.

Fast forward a couple of decades and a whole lot of stories of divine providence and it appears as if that calling has come to fruition.  Last week the pastor of my church and his wife as well as another minister from the church came over to pray for my wife and I.  After talking for a while about my calling they asked me if I would accept the ministry the Lord had placed before me and I said that I would.  They laid hands on me and prayed over my wife and I and simply affirmed what I believed I had heard as a little boy, that the Lord had called me into a ministry for his namesake.

It was agreed this ministry would now be my first priority.  What exactly this whole thing would look like we don’t know yet and we’re simply trusting the Lord in the matter to reveal his plans for my wife and I as we move forward in this.  That being said, one of the first objectives was to begin writing on this blog again.  To simply share whatever the Lord gave me to share.  After that I would still have a vocation outside ministry, a “tent making” as it were but my ministry would be a first priority with everything else being subordinated to that ministry.  Again, what that even looks like apart from this blog, right now, we don’t know.  But we do feel as if the blog is a first step of obedience.

Now comes the matter of rearranging priorities.  I’m in business for my self as a general contractor and feel as though the Lord has clearly said that I am to set that aside and find other work that will allow me to truly devote the time necessary to the ministry he’s called me to.  That being said, I’m near the end of this job I’m currently on, a very complicated construction project with a lot of moving parts.   My initial thought about how to step away from being a general contractor and into my new bi vocational ministry included a professional and timely completion of my current project.

But as soon as I began to think about closing out this job before moving on to the blog or anything else ministry related, the Spirit immediately quickened in my heart, “Let the dead bury the dead.  You follow Me.”

“59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  – Luke 9:59

I kind of brushed this off and thought to myself, “Well yeah, just as soon as I wrap up this project, it’s the professional thing to do.”  I would get to the blog just as soon as the project finished.  Only the project won’t finish.  All manner of things have seemed to move against me in my effort to complete what would seem to be pretty insignificant tasks and wrap this job up.  Honestly, there are too many examples to go into in an effort to explain, but things my wife and I can’t help but feel is serious resistance in the spiritual realm.

But why?

“Let the dead bury the dead.  You follow Me.”

Today I was on my job site trying to tie some things up.  Again, a proposition that’s become seemingly impossible for the last couple of weeks since we prayed together with our local body about this ministry call.

Again, I heard the Lord.  “You heard me right the first time.  Let the dead bury the dead.  You follow Me.”

I immediately left the construction site to come home, get this site up and write something.  Anything.  I don’t know if this will mean anything to anyone who reads this but I feel a great peace and purpose in simply following Jesus.  Regardless of what my intellect, my loved ones, my clients or the world may say, I know what the has Lord said.

“Let the dead bury the dead.  You follow Me.”

Yes, Lord.

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Today if you hear his voice…

Sinai desert at sunset

“Today if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts…”

I’m praying that those who are reading this blog post would feel pressed in their hearts to open their Bibles and read through Hebrews 3 and 4.  Pray and ask the Lord to open your heart to receive his word.

James 1:5 tells us that if we lack wisdom that we can ask the Lord and he will give it to us, as he does so liberally (abundantly) and without hesitation.  So I want to encourage you to do just this.

What do you believe the Lord is saying here?  Why is he so concerned with us hearing his voice?  How does unbelief led to a hardened heart?  What is the Lord saying to you today?

Grace and peace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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