To Him Alone

 

i.

An  inviolable truth

Solomon holds his sword high, about to cleave the infant in two.  The false mother says, “Let it be done.  Divide the child.  It is just.”  The true mother cries out, “No! Let my own hopes be crushed, but let the child be kept whole!”

So in the courts of philosophy and religion.  Many are the false midwives who are ready to see the truth divided, declaring all inspiration to be equal: “Let the Hindus sport a leg and the Buddhists an arm and the Catholics a severed head: in the end it’s all one truth, and we, in an orgy of mediocrity, can celebrate together our love for the semblance of truth.”

But the few who know their God will never let that knowledge be divided or degraded.  They will never agree that a limb or a head has the worth of a truth more precious than life itself.  This is the faith of the martyrs, that faith which is offensive to the world, that faith which enables those who have it to live and speak without compromise.

How does one come to such a faith?  What is this faith that I should want it?  In whom is faith that I should trust and follow?  What bond is faith that I should never let him go?

ii

The soul as the medium and residence of faith

In searching beyond what is given, in searching beyond the witness of the senses and beyond the conclusions of reason, faith begins.

The scientist undertakes his research with “faith” that some unknown can be found.  However, to establish his discoveries, he only allows the witness of a logic rooted in experimentation, observation, and measurement.  This is appropriate to the study of the material world.  Any claim that all truth must submit to such a program is equivalent to a pre-judgment that there is no reality beyond the material.

Just such a narrow perspective has held dominion in the last century.  Yet, in times past, men of science, believing that the spectrum of reality stretched beyond the material world, were not so stunted in their thinking that they could not enjoy both the witness of the senses and the witness of the heart.  Galileo, Newton, Pascal, Faraday and a host of others found no conflict between the investigation of matter and a certainty of God which begins in faith.  For them, thinking and logic were relevant also to faith, though faith be rooted in the private judgments of the heart.

Faith, then, is a faculty which appropriately belongs to such a person, to someone who believes that the scope of reality surpasses that which the tools of science are able to ascertain and who believes that the heart can be a reliable witness in determining that truth.  This faculty, belief in the witness of the heart, can only be exercised by those who believe that the word “heart” may refer to something more than the organ which pumps their blood.

It is essential – in spite of all that science or Darwin might have to say – it is essential that we recognize that a human being transcends mind and body: that we have an essential core which is our invisible and eternal Address; that we have a core which owns expectation and purpose and suffering and discernment such as appear from deep within ourselves, such as far exceed the memories and conclusions and generalizations of experience; in sum, that we have a core which in and of itself is capable of extreme intelligence.

Just as Genesis describes separately the creation of the soul and the formation of the body, so King David in the Psalms refers to the two levels of our being:

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. …My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.”  Psalm 139.13,15,16

Darwin’s journey upward out of the primeval slime implicitly portrays the eternal and independently existing soul as incongruous with his “human animal.”  Since the folly of Darwinism has been radically successful in the modern age, rooting out belief even in our own existence, there remain very few individuals who are ready for profound faith.

Since faith becomes that faculty by which the human person reaches through the unknown and touches God, there must be something real at both ends of the mystical wire – a real God and a real and conscious soul inhabiting “the heart’s house.”

It is our soul that is our address, that center in us which goes to God apart from all loss of mind and body.  Our soul gathers to itself multiple terms: person, spirit, ego, heart, self.  In dreams the soul reveals itself surrounded by history and purposes and wounds which are unknown to us in our conscious experience.  Spirit is associated with soul.  However difficult “spirit” might be to identify, we popularly refer to it as an indicator of the life of the soul.

The soul has other accoutrements to which we commonly refer.  It is normal to speak of rationality, propriety, and sexuality as independent and warring forces within the heart, as in dreams they often appear in the guise of independent personae.  In our daily conduct it is normal that we do not “bare the soul” or present to the world the whole sum of who we are.  Rather we present to the world an edited version of ourselves which is commonly called our Persona.  There is a great complex environment surrounding the soul, and it is for this reason that it can be useful to speak not only of the soul but also,  more inclusively and metaphorically, of the “heart” or “heart’s house.”

iii

Spiritual perception and the ring of truth

Believing in the existence of my own soul, I am able to believe that I truly exist.  This is belief which often comes only through pain, through listening to cries which emerge from deep within our own being, cries which we have not imitated from another source, cries which call out from dark corners which we never knew.  These are the cries of trauma, of hope, of ambition, of despair – cries so earnest that they frighten us because we are shocked at the urgency of their appearance.  It is perhaps no accident that the ability of the soul to recognize God seems more acute when we are in distress.

Within these cries, if we are fortunate and have not had our spirits crushed, there may emerge a cry that calls out for “the one who brings order to the heart’s house, the awaited one, the anticipated one.”  This is the One who is sought in faith, whom only faith can find, whom only a life of faith can come to know.

Believing in the existence of my own soul I am made able to learn that I have significance in the consciousness of my Creator, that I am seen, that he knows me.

“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Yahveh.”

Psalm 139.2-4

The promise of Yeshua is even more radical:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”             John 14.16-18

As for the scientist or the composer or the artist, early faith is labor in hope: it is a great deal of searching and experimenting, a great deal of thrashing about.  But faith becomes informed.  For the composer, he is informed by his own efforts, by the compositions of those who have come before him, and by the sound that rings true.  For the one who is searching for God, he is informed by his own persistence, by the words of God preserved in writing, and by the very presence of God speaking to the heart.  The living God reaches into our lives.  He has made us to seek him and he has ordered the world and our individual experience to make it possible that we should find him, that he should ultimately hold us in his embrace.

Intelligent faith eventually arrives at belief in the existence of a real object of faith.    That object is God as Person, for the satisfaction of the quest of faith will not ring true until the searcher recognizes in the object of his faith that same passion and hope and suffering which distinguishes and describes his own person.  God made us in his image.  He made us in the image of his person.  The person is the atomic unit of spiritual reality.

iv

Belief in the in-historical God leads to fire and smoke

Belief is the threshold of faith.  Is it the whole of faith?  James, brother of the Messiah of Israel, said No:

“You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that – and shudder….”  James 2.19

Belief must become life, so that our original goal is attained – that we touch God, know God, live with God, and become bound to God.

The believer must learn the character of his God through study of the history of all that God has done to gather mankind to himself.  This basic education must come from the recorded words of God.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth.  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”                              Isaiah 55.10,11

In the course of this education we discover that our God is at the heart of human history and that he is with us in the present moment.  We learn that he is not like the god of Aristotle, rapt in introversion at the center of the heavens.  Rather he is the God of Abraham and Moses and David, the God of fire and smoke, reaching out for mankind:

“Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages.  He summons the heavens above, and the earth that he may judge his people: ‘Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.’”                                                 Psalm 50.3,4,5

The  perception that our God is conscious of us may overwhelm us and leave us stricken with despair: he may seem to threaten our being because of the vast difference between us of and scale and virtue.  Evidence of the one whom we seek renders us increasingly concerned that he is more than we can know.

“You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?”    Psalm 139.5-7

Even the finite appearance of the Angel of God caused dread to the parents of Samson in the time of the judges:

He [the angel] replied, “Why do you ask my name?  It is beyond understanding.”…Manoah took a young goat and sacrificed it on a rock to Yahveh….As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of Yahveh ascended in the flame…Manoah realized that it was the angel of Yahveh.  “We are doomed to die!” he said to his wife.  “We have seen God!” 

Judges 13. 18-22

The perception that the Creator of all worlds holds us in his consciousness leads us to consciousness of our helplessness and unworthiness, strangely compounded with the opposing conviction that we are intensely desired by our God.

v

Healing the breach: the Messianic prophesy and the advent of Yeshua

How are we to deal with this?  Our first reaction might be anger, as if we have been led into the discovery of an unbearable gulf which can not be bridged, led to the desire of that which we can never know.  But the education of faith must lead us to the discovery of all that our God has done to gather us to himself.  Isaiah told us of it all, and he wrote it down, centuries before it ever happened:  the messianic [designated king] Son of God would come in all the being and presence of the Father:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”      Isaiah 9.6,7

What does he do that makes the difference?  He comes to show us the way to himself.

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned…He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young…”    Isaiah 40.1,2,11

How does he bridge the gulf between us?  Here is the mystery which offends mankind.  He bridges the gulf at the cross.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and Yahveh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  …Yet it was the will of Yahveh to put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring;…Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”    Isaiah 53.4-11

How does restoration come about when we have known nothing but rebellion?  He penetrates our individual lives and brings us the healing presence of his Spirit.

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.  For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before me, and the breath of life that I made….I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners, creating the fruit of the lips.  Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,’ says Yahveh, ‘and I will heal him.’”    Isaiah 57.15-18

We discover that Yeshua of Nazareth, born into Israel twenty centuries ago, is the one who has come to fulfill all the prophecies of Isaiah.[1]  We learn that he entered the world and went as king to the cross, standing in for us his people, dressing us in his colors, making us his own, opening for us every freedom to come into the presence of our heavenly Father.

The response of faith is to acknowledge what Yeshua has done and to give up every effort to achieve our own righteousness before God.  As Isaiah wrote,

“…all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.  We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”   Isaiah 64.6

We give up the labor of making ourselves righteous and by faith we trust in him and what he, Yeshua, has done to make us whole and restore us to our God – even conquering the curse of death which stood over us since the fall.

vi 

The one who enters and brings order to the house

Is this the journey of faith, to come to him for our redemption?  Yes, it is faith, but it is only the beginning.  We set out on a path and we ran into a great obstacle: our willful sinfulness and rebellion and finitude up against his majesty and honor and faithfulness.  We discovered the reconciliation which He alone accomplished by reaching into history and becoming one of us and taking upon himself the whole weight of  human rebellion.  We are reconciled to him.  But we must go farther.

We have heard his call and we have come to him to know him.  We have come to him for healing.  We have heard his promise of healing.  We know that if we are to have a life in his presence we must be healed, not only of the stains in our history, but also healed in our present being, so that we can know him openly and freely.  He must give us a new heart.  He must bring order and peace into the heart’s house.

How does order come to the house?  Order comes to the house when the house is yielded to the one to whom it rightly belongs.  He alone can rule the house with authority and love and understanding.  He alone can know the deepest aspirations of the human heart and instruct us day by day in all that we need to know in order to fill out the great hope of our humanity, that seed which he planted in us.  He our God has come to us and we must open the secret core of our being to him.

“Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and sup with him and he with me.”    Revelation 3.20

This day must come.  We must open ourselves and yield to his entry.  Yeshua said,

“I am the bread of life….I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is my flesh which I give for the life of the world…..Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.  Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.”   ….Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?  …The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.  The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”  John 6.48,51,53-57

Yeshua was speaking as graphically as possible to tell his disciples that they must truly open their core being to the presence of the Spirit of Yeshua himself, and that this becomes their sustenance and their healing.

This life of intimacy with our redeemer becomes that life in which we go beyond all academic knowledge of him.  We become like the neighbors of the Samaritan woman after they spent hours at his feet:

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”    John 4.42

We also are led by him to know him through the historical record of all that he has said and done, this record being all the Scriptures of both the old and new covenants.  The role of Yeshua begins in the first verse of Genesis, as John has told us clearly:

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.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men….The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.   John 1.1-4,14,18

In our broadening knowledge of our redeemer we are led into all the vast mysteries of this world and encouraged by God never to stop asking questions, never to cease to explore the riches of his person.  As Paul wrote,

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge….all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things and in him all things hold together…..For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”                                                   Colossians 2.2,3; 1.17,19,20

Who is this whose life stretches from the cross to the present to the depths of Creation?  It is our God, even the one who would inhabit the human heart.  His Spirit is meant to rule within our heart, to instruct our souls, to encourage our spirit, to honor him.  It is only someone of intrinsic worth who can be said to deserve a great teacher.  We are that person of worth.  He is that teacher.  It is for us to become honor to him.

vii 

Royal power, the throne of heaven and the celestial architecture 

But we must go farther.  We have opened our hearts to him, and we are learning to love him, and we are discovering the peace which he brings to the court of our soul’s house, and we are made conscious that this power which he exercises over our entire being is greater than any power on earth.  Until he comes, the soul is at war with itself, battling through darkness, desperately attempting to give the reigns of power to the voice of the warrior or the scholar or the lover or the cynic or the tyrant, never finding peace for lack of the only hand that knows and cares and guides and truly loves the human heart.

By his power the heart is healed.  And the certainty of his healing and his presence is the certainty that there is some function of the celestial order which binds the heavens to the surface of the earth.  As Jacob saw and as Yeshua himself avowed, the heavens are joined to earth by a ladder, a stairway, and that stairway is Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel.

He [Jacob] had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.     Genesis 28.12

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”   John 1.51

In the presence of his power in the heart and in consciousness of his royal seat in the heavens we are pressed to recognize that his royal kingdom spreads on invisible cords  throughout the world.  We cannot help but see throughout the old covenant Scriptures that Yeshua alone fulfills the Messianic expectation, a rule which reaches to his subjects in this world and binds them to himself, yet a kingdom which transcends the form of the kingdoms of this world.  This our kingdom is that rock cut out of a mountain but not by human hands, that rock to be formed in the time of the historic earthly kingdoms:

“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people.  It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.  This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands.”    Daniel 2.44,45

We can not help but see Yeshua as our king, as royal lord over all that we are.  And now our mind is opened to all that is written in the Scriptures to assert his kingship.

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.’…

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’

‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.

                                                                                    Luke 19.37-40

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.  But now my kingdom is from another place.” 

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king.”  John 18. 36,37

“These are the words of the true Holy One, who holds the key of David, who opens and none shall shut, who shuts and none shall open.”   Revelation 3.7

“These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life.”    Revelation 2.8

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations….and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and sup with him and he with me.  And the conqueror shall sit beside me on my throne as I myself have also conquered and sat down beside my Father on his throne.”      Revelation 3.20,21

“Grace be to you and peace from he who is and was and is coming, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the prince over kings of earth.”  Revelation 1.4,5

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”    Colossians 2.9,10

The Israel of God is not one of the nations, nor shall our Messiah ever cast a vote in the assemblies of the nations.  Yeshua is one with the Father and his kingship is eternal, from the beginning of time to the end of time.  He came iconically into Jerusalem on a donkey to demonstrate that as king he came to bring peace to his people, to as many as receive him.

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”    John 1.13

When Yeshua made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem it was not a dress rehearsal for some future event.  When Yeshua shall return in splendor to destroy the armies of lawlessness, John tells us that,

“On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”      Revelation 19.16

Between that day when Yeshua entered Jerusalem on a donkey and the day when he shall return in splendor, there is no mention of a coronation in Scripture, for he is king on the heavenly throne – the throne over eternal Israel – yesterday, today, and forever. 

viii 

Heirs of the promises to Abraham

“Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross.  It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”      John 19.19

When Charles DeGaulle was asked to compromise his expectations in the provisions for nations after World War II, due to the fact that only a minority of the French populace had openly opposed the Nazis, he replied, “I fought the Resistance: France fought the Resistance!

So Yeshua stands in the council of heaven before the throne of God, announcing to all, “I paid the price of sin: my people have paid the price of sin.”  By God’s grace we are accepted in identity with Yeshua our king.  As king, Yeshua stood in for us his people.  He went to the cross for us, the king for his people.  In learning that Yeshua is King of the Jews, in learning that he is king over my soul in all royal power, I discover that I belong to the ancient holy people of God.  I discover that I share in the ancient promises to Abraham:

“You are all sons of God through faith in Messiah Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Messiah have clothed yourselves with Messiah.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Jesus.  If you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”            Galatians 3.26-29

This means that the promise which is the very definition of the hope of Israel is my promise also.  I live in the hope of Israel for eternity and I live in the hope of Israel in this present moment.  Furthermore, the birth pains of Israel are my birth pains, for the salvation of my life has depended on every nuance of the history of my people.  My own life was being saved as Moses led the descendants of Abraham out of Egypt.

The law given at Sinai was coming to earth for me, to guide me and direct me to know the ways of my God.

I ask, as Moses asked, “Teach me your ways so that I may know you and continue to find favor with you.”  When Yahveh, as royal Lord over Israel, calls his people to keep his commandments and be bound to him by covenant, my heart is there, seeking to be bound to him by covenant.

Like the people of Israel, I discover that my heart fails, that I am wayward, that I am prone to reserve certain chambers of my heart as my own, places where I am amazed that he must also rule.  I, like Israel, wait in my heart for the realization in me of the new covenant:

“The time is coming,” declares Yahveh, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant though I was a husband to them,” declares Yahveh.   “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares Yahveh.  “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Jeremiah 31.31-33  

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”     Ezekiel 11.19,20

“And afterward I will pour out my Spirit on all people….” Joel 2.28

ix 

The new covenant: the heart called to the last measure of devotion

As Yeshua last commemorated Passover with his disciples he lifted a cup of wine and told of his blood about to be given sacrificially at the cross to initiate and seal the new covenant:

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”    Matthew 26.27,28

What is a covenant?  It is a binding oath between individuals who wish to make the care and purpose of their lives coincident one with the other, even to the point of death.  As a life and death oath it is usually marked either by the enduring witness of some commemorative object or by the event of sacrifice, so witnessing the seriousness of the oath.

There are covenants of loyalty between equals.  Since ancient times, there are also covenants by which a sovereign binds himself to his people, where all the power of the king stands in defense of the life of his subject, and where the life of the subject is totally devoted to his king.  In such covenants there are expectations and there are promises, from sovereign and subject alike.  Such was God’s original covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai.

Under the old covenant it became clear that the guidance of the law and the will of a man are not sufficient to elevate him to grounds of real intimacy with his God.  The miracle of the new covenant is that God provides his Spirit to nourish us and teach us and give us a heart which desires his law, his will.

Yeshua held up the Passover cup, representing the shedding of his blood, and within hours he gave his life in covenant loyalty to redeem his people.  The significant fulfillment of his revolutionary promise, to impart to his subjects his Spiritual presence, was then initiated within days, on the feast of Pentecost.

In the journey of faith, we come to this moment when we are called beyond simple faith and trust, now to know that the sustenance of a life of loyalty within the covenant will come from God himself.  Yeshua says, Believe in me!  And then, to those who have a vision of his reality, he says, Follow me!

We are called to share in this covenant.  We are called to raise that glass and acknowledge his blood as shed for us.  We are called to enter into baptism claiming that his death is our death, claiming that we in our sinfulness are covered by the cleansing power of his blood. 

Should we go so far, then we go far beyond that simple belief which might have led us to that moment of baptism: we pass into the dreadful seriousness of a life and death covenant with the God who made us.

x 

A people apart

Our lives are now his alone.  We have accepted that with the price of his life he has bought us back from death and we are not our own.  We now share the understanding of Jeremiah:

A man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.”

 Jeremiah 10.23

Our new life: He in us, and we in him, our lives contained in him:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

   John 10.27,28

“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.”                                                                     John 12.26

We are contained in him and we are sustained by him:

“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.  These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me….The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”   John 14.23,24,26

Inside this covenant relationship with our God, we are separated, set apart to God:

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.  Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”  John 15.19,20

“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  For them I sanctify [set apart] myself, that they too may be truly sanctified [set apart for God].”    John 17. 14-19

The final words of Yeshua’s great prayer before going to the cross are a promise that the journey to our God will never end, that he will continually draw us deeper and deeper into the knowledge of him, that more and more clearly we will discover the face of our God until that day comes when we see him as he is:

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”   John 17.25,26          

Lawrence S. Jones

Chicago, 2013

email: lstewartj@sbcglobal.net

website: www.jerusalemgraffiti.com


[1] Colossians 2.9; Colossians 1.15,19

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s